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Court declares InselAir bankrupt

A Curacao court has declared already-grounded local airline InselAir International bankrupt.

The decision of the Common Court of Justice of Willemstad was announced after the airline failed to attract a strategic investor and had lost its air operator's certificate earlier this month.

On 2 February, what had once been the principal airline of the Dutch Caribbean stopped selling tickets and grounded its last operational aircraft, a Fokker 50 turboprop with registry PJ-KVM. The move followed an inspection by the Civil Aviation Authority of Curacao (CCAA) that detected technical shortcomings.

On 19 February, the CCAA decided to withdraw InselAir's certificate after previously announced strategic partner and investor InterCaribbean failed to finalise a plan to acquire 49% of the company.

InselAir's demise follows that of corporate sibling InselAir Aruba, which a court declared bankrupt in June 2017.

InselAir got airborne in 2006 with an Embraer Bandeirante turboprop and a network connecting Curacao with Aruba and other Islands in the Caribbean. InselAir acquired a fleet of Boeing MD-80s, which it deployed to destinations in the USA, Caribbean and northern South America. The carrier also acquired Fokker 70 jets formerly operated by KLM Cityhopper and began feeding KLM's Aruba flights under a codeshare agreement.

In 2015, InselAir presented plans to renew its fleet with Airbus A319 aircraft, but that plan never proceeded amid doubts the airline would fail to recover tens of millions of dollars stuck in Venezuela, its largest international market.

Since 2016, a number of technical groundings forced the airline to rely increasingly on wet-leased aircraft to maintain flight schedules as it sought to recover the Venezuelan funds.

After InselAir’s grounding, the airline and local government brokered an agreement with Curacao-based Divi Divi Air – a small operator of Dornier 228s, Britten-Normal-Islanders and Cessnas – to transport stranded passengers between Curacao and St Maarten.

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