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iAero Airways Files for Bankruptcy Protection

An iAero 737 (Photo: Ganbaruby, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)

iAero Airways, previously known as Swift Air, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Aero Crew News reports. The company is among the largest Boeing 737 charter airlines in the United States.

iAero Airways was established in 2019 when iAero acquired Swift Air. The company offers charters, ACMI leasing, and cargo flights on behalf of major international couriers.

iAero’s fleet currently consists of 18 Boeing 737-400s, nine 737-800BDSFs, eight Boeing 737-300s, five Boeing 737-800s, two Boeing 737-400SFs, and one Boeing 737-300SFs.

Swift Air History

Swift Air began operating in 1997 with Embraer ERJ-135 aircraft. The aircraft was authorized for operations under Part 121 in 2006, and it subsequently began flying Boeing 737-400s in premium all-first-class configurations.

Swift Air was purchased by iAero in 2019 and rebranded as iAero Airways later that year. It retained its corporate identity as Swift Air, LLC in order to keep its air operating certificates.

The company played a critical role in the third revival of the Eastern Air Lines brand. It owns the intellectual property belonging to the famous Eastern Air Lines, which went defunct in 1991; Swift purchased the company’s second iteration after its bankruptcy in 2017. When Dynamic Airways, part of which is owned by the co-owner of Swift Air, arose from bankruptcy in 2018, it acquired a license from Swift to use the Eastern intellectual property in order to brand itself as Eastern Airlines while operating on the Dynamic Air Operator’s Certificate.

iAero is one of the few American companies that still operates the Boeing 737 Classic family. While major airlines have transitioned to 737NG and 737 MAX aircraft, iAero’s fleet has remained a mainstay of historical aviation in the United States. While the fleet is rarely available for the public to travel on, they are still visible to the public at commercial airports around the country.

Swift acquired 737-800s while planning for the latest iteration of Eastern. One of the airline’s aircraft is painted in Eastern colors to protect the trademarks.

A Swift Air Boeing 737-400 in the Fyre Festival special livery. (Photo: John Klos [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)])

Swift’s journey to this Chapter 11 filing has been somewhat volatile. It has received publicity for operating flights on behalf of John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. The aircraft McCain used was called the “Straight Talk Express” for the duration of the election cycle. The aircraft has also been notable for operating on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

However, the airline’s bid to start international flights in 2011 failed within one month. The carrier suspended its Part 121 operations for a week during the same month it tried international flights due to an FAA inquiry.

The airline was also tapped to operate charter flights on behalf of the notorious Fyre Festival, which attracted visitors with promises of spectacular music and arts only to provide incredibly lackluster amenities and facilities.  Swift was forced into a PR crisis in which it distanced itself from festival organizers.

Bankruptcy Filing

Swift Air says it has the support of lenders through commitments for approximately $22.5 million in debtor-in-possession financing to allow iAero Airways to operate as usual.

“After careful consideration, our board determined it was necessary to take this step now to address our financial strength and restructure certain of our contractual relationships and legacy balance sheet liabilities,” said Timothy Rainey, President of iAero Airways in a press release. “We believe this Chapter 11 filing provides the most effective means to restructure with minimal impact on the business and our customers and we are committed to moving through this process as expeditiously as possible so the company can emerge from Chapter 11 well-positioned to maximize our long-term prospects for the benefit of our customers, employees and other stakeholders.”

“Our customers remain our top priority and they can continue to depend on us for the same safe, reliable travel and high-quality service they know and expect from us,” Rainey continued

“The company is optimistic about its long-term future upon emergence as it stabilizes its businesses following a global pandemic that placed unprecedented pressures on the airline industry and significantly deleverages its balance sheet during these Chapter 11 cases,” the company wrote while announcing its filing.

In addition to continuing operations now, iAero says it is working with courts to seek relief that will ensure normal operations long-term. The company also stressed its dedication to keep paying employees and providing promised benefits without interruption.

John McDermott

Author

  • John McDermott

    John McDermott is a student at Northwestern University. He is also a student pilot with hopes of flying for the airlines. A self-proclaimed "avgeek," John will rave about aviation at length to whoever will listen, and he is keen to call out any airplane he sees, whether or not anyone around him cares about flying at all. John previously worked as a Journalist and Editor-In-Chief at Aeronautics Online Aviation News and Media. In his spare time, John enjoys running, photography, and watching planes approach Chicago O'Hare from over Lake Michigan.

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