US-based Frontier Airlines Holdings Inc has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but unlike other airlines filing for bankruptcy in recent weeks, it plans to keep running while it reorganises.
The low-fare carrier said its filing on Friday came after an unexpected attempt by its principal credit card processor to start withholding significant proceeds from the sale of Frontier tickets, which threatened to hurt Frontier’s liquidity.
The Chapter 11 filing in US Bankruptcy Court in New York prevents the credit card processor from increasing its “holdback,” Frontier CEO Sean Menke said.
“By filing for Chapter 11, we will now have the time and legal protection necessary to obtain additional financing and enhance our liquidity. Fortunately, we believe that we currently have adequate cash on hand to meet our operating needs while we take steps to further strengthen our company,” Menke said in a statement.
Frontier, whose major hub is in Denver, has been affected as other airlines have by rising fuel costs and the credit crisis in financial markets.
ATA Airlines, Skybus and Aloha Airgroup all have filed for bankruptcy recently, but Menke said Frontier’s reasons for doing so were different.
“Unfortunately, our principal credit card processor very recently and unexpectedly informed us that, beginning on April 11, it intended to start withholding significant proceeds received from the sale of Frontier tickets,” he said.
He said Frontier was prepared to litigate, if necessary.
The creditor listed in bankruptcy court documents as having the largest general unsecured claim against Frontier by far was Wells Fargo, with $93.5 million (Dh343.15 million). Frontier said it had fewer than 50 creditors.
At the end of last year, Frontier said, it had assets of $98.3 million and debts of $92.2 million.
A Frontier spokesman had said earlier this week the airline had “no concerns about bankruptcy” but added that it was working on strengthening its cash position.
Last month, Frontier said it had agreed to sell four planes as it dealt with rising fuel costs. (AP)
US airline files for bankruptcy protection