Freight carrier HeavyLift Cargo Airlines has ceased operations after its attempt to restructure failed last week. The company put its engineering unit, HeavyLift Aircraft Engineering, into administration and closed its passenger arm, Prime Airlines, earlier this month, but insisted then that its core business would continue as normal.

HeavyLift Aircraft Engineering has now been shut down, and all employees of Prime, HeavyLift Cargo and the engineering arm have been laid off.

Parent company managing director Michael Hayles is negotiating with the company's backers, led by Barclays Bank, to refinance the company. Only the group's Air Foyle HeavyLift joint venture and the technical services division are still operating.

HeavyLift Cargo and Prime Airlines, which together constitute HC Airlines, were placed in receivership by chief creditor Barclays on 18 September. Rod Weston of Deloitte & Touche, administrator for HeavyLift Aircraft Engineering and receiver for HC Airlines, says: "The assets [including a single Shorts Belfast freighter and one Airbus A300F4-200] will be sold off piecemeal, probably pretty quickly."

The engineering arm's move into administration followed the collapse of sales talks with overhaul specialist ATC Latham. Closing the business reduces the chances of finding a buyer. "We were talking to a lot of people 10 days ago," says Weston. "We are still talking to a couple of them." If a sale cannot be achieved by the end of the month, the engineering branch will probably also be liquidated and sold.

Meanwhile, Prime Airlines is understood to have returned its only aircraft, an Airbus A300B4-200, to lessor GE Capital Aviation Services. Founded in August 2001, the ad hoc charter service was intended to serve airlines needing short-notice extra capacity – a market that largely disappeared after 11 September last year.

Source: Flight International