Forget About That Corny Corner-Ribbon's Drivel! The Real Secret is HERE Indeed - not over there!

Monday, March 14, 2005

all jets are not go...

I guess it is too easy to add just a few extra words to any given song to spoof it... likewise, it is too easy to use songs to do a take-off (no pun intended... or is it) on a current headline...
Like... ''I'm NOT leaving... in a jetsgo plane''
Or... ''I wanna fly like an eagle... to the sea... fly like an eagle... because jetsgo won't fly me...'' *LOL*
Sending it up more abruptly, with something like this - ''Take... these BROKEN WINGS... and let them fly again (yeah right - fat chance now...)'' - might be a no-no...
What is so sad though, is that the end of jetsgo sounds the end of really, and I do mean REALLY affordable jet-flying... Not that any jetsgo frequent flyer could lay claim to the ''title'' of one Nature Boy (''jet-flying, limousine-riding, kiss-stealing, wheeling-dealing sonuvagun'') - but then, who wants to be that in these far more dangerous (and less innocent) times... hmm?

Bye bye jetsgo - we hardly knew (exploited) thee...

Comments:
Travellers stranded as Jetsgo shuts down CTV.ca News Staff

Thousands of Jetsgo ticket holders have had a bad start to their March break, after the airline announced early this morning that it was ceasing operations.

Jetsgo, the country's third-largest airline, made the surprising announcement just after midnight Friday.

"We deeply regret that this had to happen. The decision to cease operations was only taken after difficult deliberation,'' Jetsgo president Michel Leblanc said in a statement.

Not only are Jetsgo's 1,200 employees out of work, but a reported 17,000 passengers have been left stranded during one of the busiest travel times of the year -- March break.

The anger and frustration was evident among many Jetsgo ticket holders, who were told to seek seats on other airlines, already full of sunseekers.

Transport Minister Jean Lapierre, speaking at a news conference in Ottawa Friday morning, said the airline industry in Canada is competitive, and there is little he can do to help stranded passengers.

He said some ticket holders may be able to get refunds, depending on how they booked their flights.

VISA Canada and Mastercard have both said they would refund the tickets. Travel agencies in certain provinces also have policies in place to compensate travellers.

Were you affected by the Jetsgo grounding? E-mail us your stories.
A total of 18 Jetsgo flights were to take off from Toronto's Pearson International Airport today. The planes were headed for domestic destinations as well as those in the U.S. and Mexico. Another 10 flights were to land in Toronto.

Kim and Nathan Ream were to fly to Orlando Friday with their son, Samuel, out of Pearson. When they arrived at the airport at 5 a.m. ET, they were given little help.

"I found a lot of unhelpful things, like 'Good luck, buddy," said Nathan Ream, "That's what I got from the shuttle bus driver, and a couple of other people that I approached for assistance."

Among those stranded were 200 RCMP officers in Edmonton. They'd flown there to attend the national memorial service on Thursday for four Mounties killed by a crazed gunman.

Laying blame

Jetsgo, whose logo is "Pay a little. Fly a lot," said it was forced to ground all of its planes due to difficult market conditions and competitive pressures.

In court documents filed in Quebec Superior Court, the airline blamed a move of its base to Toronto's Pearson Airport from the cheaper location at Hamilton.

It said it had lost about $55 million over the past eight months and that it had a negative net worth of about $19 million.

According to a report in The Globe and Mail, Jetsgo also cited unfair competition from WestJet as playing a large part in its decision to seek protection from its creditors.

Jetsgo had been seeking bankruptcy protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act from the Quebec Superior Court. It was granted that request, and the protection is effective until April 11.

Following Jetsgo's announcement, stock prices soared for WestJet and Air Canada, which have both said they will try to help stranded Jetsgo passengers.

In a statement on its website, WestJet said it "will provide stranded Jetsgo customers with special fares on confirmed seats in all markets served by WestJet and Jetsgo."

Air Canada has also said it won't be able to honour Jetsgo tickets.

"Air Canada regrets that no arrangements were made by Jetsgo that would enable Air Canada to accept Jetsgo tickets," a statement on the airline's website said.

Jetsgo said in a statement that passengers who had paid for tickets should talk to the Canadian Transportation Agency or provincial consumer affairs ministries.

Analysts not shocked

While this announcement is a shock to many travellers, those in the airline industry aren't surprised.

In recent months, Jetsgo has suffered many technical setbacks, including a botched landing attempt at Calgary International Airport in January.

"It was a matter of when, not a matter of whether this was going to happen," Joe D'Cruz, an airline industry analyst, told CTV's Canada AM.

The Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation into the Calgary incident.

In a more recent incident, a Jetsgo plane left debris on the runway at Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Friday.

Transport Canada recently prohibited the airline from flying above 29,000 feet. That decision came after Transport officials found flight-manual deficiencies during the probe of the erratic landing in Calgary.

That added to the company's woes. D'Cruz said flying at 28,000 feet means planes burn more fuel, and it takes much longer to get to a destination.

"It was only a question of whether Transport Canada would shut them down, or they would just shut themselves down," D'Cruz said.

In a media briefing Friday, Lapierre said his department on Thursday issued a 30-day directive to Jetsgo to fix safety and procedural problems. But he denied that had anything to do with Jetsgo's abrupt grounding.

"I really don't know what prompted that. But I think when they are going for court protection, it's not because of our notice," he said.

Jetsgo had scheduled discount air service to 20 Canadian and 10 U.S. destinations. It operated 14 Boeing MD-83 and was in the process of adding 18 Fokker 100 commuter jets.

Leblanc started the privately-held company in 2002 from the ashes of Canada 3000, which failed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001.

Jetsgo ticket holders can call the Canadian Transportation Agency at:

1-888-222-2592
1-800-669-5575 (Toll Free)
With files from The Canadian Press
 
Jetsgo raising questions about feds' response CTV.ca News Staff

As thousands of Canadians faced either a ruined or vastly more expensive March Break vacation as a result of Jetsgo's collapse, questions are also growing about the government's role.

A spokesman for federal Transport Minister Jean Lapierre is refusing to answer any more questions about what he knew about the discount airline's financial troubles.

"It's a private company. What do you expect us to do?" is all a spokesman would tell CTV News.

Clive Beddoe, CEO of WestJet, had one idea.

"We would certainly support some regulation that requires advance ticket sales to be put in some kind of trust account for some period of time," he said.

Some passengers are still stinging from the 2001 collapse of Canada 3000, another discount carrier. They want protection.

"The government, they have the Canada Deposit Insurance for people who go to banks. They should have the same for people who travel," said Stewart Slater.

In the U.S., one law requires competing airlines to pick up stranded passengers for just $25 US.

"There's a basic level of protection that consumers have a right to expect," said David Jeanes of Transport 2000, who thinks some type of insurance is needed.

"You will see more airlines that don't make it and customers left in the lurch," he said, adding, "this weekend has been particularly brutal."

Angry customers, employees

"I would like to see their butts go to jail," Kyla Brown said at Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

Her 14-year-old daughter is the only one in the family getting a March vacation now. Brown and her son will be staying home as a result of the Jetsgo shut-down.

Teacher Heidi Parsons and her parents from Bracebridge, Ont. were booked to fly to Florida with Jetsgo. Now they're going to the Dominican Republic.

Asked how much they were out of pocket as a result, Parsons said: "Um, more than we bargained for. So we're about six grand in the hole."

In Moncton, N.B., Tasha Snyders was separated from her son and husband, who were stuck in Calagary after gambling on a good deal with Jetsgo. The Ontario family had taken separate holidays.

"In my mind, it was like stealing because we are not going to get our money back," she said.

Jetsgo employees told CTV News they were stunned because management had told them everything was fine.

"'We have the money, don't listen to the rumours -- they just want to put the airline, down, don't worry about it,'" said Maria Grazon.

Jetsgo's practices

It appears the discount airline was selling tickets and taking flight bookings until just before it ceased operations.

This was happening even though company officials knew as early as Wednesday Jetsgo could be forced to ground all flights.

Canada's third-largest airline announced that it was ceasing operations just after midnight Friday.

The move left 1,200 Jetsgo employees out of work and a reported 17,000 Jetsgo ticket holders were stranded

According to a report in The Globe and Mail, the Jetsgo owed millions to creditors and faced serious safety investigations.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority and air-traffic controller Nav Canada were owed millions, The Globe reported, and Nav Canada threatened to seize planes if the debt was not immediately returned.

Jetsgo, whose logo is "Pay a little. Fly a lot," said it was forced to ground all of its planes due to difficult market conditions and competitive pressures.

In an email to Jetsgo employees, founder Michel Leblanc blamed one of the creditors for the airline's demise.

"Unfortunately, one creditor in particular that has the power to stop all Jetsgo operations at once, exercised extreme pressure on our cash reserves last Monday, although aware of the disastrous consequences of such a drastic action would have for each and every one of you," he wrote, according to The Globe. "You don't deserve this."

In court documents filed in Quebec Superior Court, the airline blamed the move of its base to Toronto's Pearson Airport from the cheaper location at Hamilton.

It said it had lost about $55 million over the past eight months and that it had a negative net worth of about $19 million.

Jetsgo also cited unfair competition from WestJet as playing a large part in its decision to seek protection from its creditors.

The airline alleges that WestJet gained access to its internal computer systems and launched an attack on Jetsgo's business.

Jetsgo had been seeking bankruptcy protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act from the Quebec Superior Court. It was granted that request, and the protection is effective until April 11.

Jetsgo began as a low-cost carrier in 2002, and quickly grew to a fleet of 29 airliners. It says it remained profitable until the spring of 2004. Its recent financial crisis was also intensified by publicity surrounding safety investigations.

Were you affected by the Jetsgo grounding? E-mail us your stories.

Jetsgo ticket holders can call the Canadian Transportation Agency at:
1-888-222-2592
1-800-669-5575 (Toll Free)

With reports from CTV's Paula Newton and Denelle Balfour with files from The Canadian Press
 
Jetsgo death spiral came with 'ridiculous' fares aboard aging jets 11/03/2005 4:36:00 PM

TORONTO (CP) - As fly-by-night operations go, they don't go out much more flamboyantly than Jetsgo.

The little airline, operating outdated planes with a smiley-face logo and fares as low as one cent, appears to have been an accident waiting to happen. "I think something cataclysmic happened on the financial side, possibly on the safety side," independent airline analyst Rick Erickson said from Calgary after Friday's sudden closure of the company.

"Something significant happened very quickly."

In its bankruptcy court filing Friday, Jetsgo said it lost $55 million in the last eight months and $22 million since Jan. 1.

But right up until its middle-of-the-night collapse, the airline was still selling tickets and running its chirpy advertising - "Pay a little. Fly a lot."

"I won't call it shady, but it wasn't right to do that," said Stanley Kershman, a bankruptcy specialist at law firm Perley-Robertson, Hill and McDougall in Ottawa.

"They knew they were having financial difficulties way before now."

Jetsgo's abrupt termination - stranding thousands of customers and disrupting the plans of about 17,000 people a day on the very eve of the March-break travel surge - resembles the sudden death of Canada 3000 in 2001 but contrasts with the orderly closure of Greyhound Air in 1997. That low-fare airline's demise was announced more than two weeks before its final flight.

"What's particularly galling is the timing of this," Mel Fruitman, vice-president of the Consumers' Association of Canada, said of the Jetsgo collapse.

"You sit back and wait till you've got a whole bunch of people booking and then you pull the plug on all of them just before they're about to leave - when they're all on their way to the airport?"

Fruitman loaded much of the blame onto federal regulators.

"They have known for some time that Jetsgo was flying basically on a wing and a prayer," he said.

"Jetsgo has been offering absolutely ridiculous fares, like $1 from Vancouver to Toronto, and the airline obviously cannot make money at that rate. Why didn't the government do something at their various agencies to prevent this from happening?"

Industry analyst Erickson said there has been "lots of innuendo in the industry over the past four or five months" about Jetsgo's future.

"I thought, though, they'd managed to get through the most difficult part of the year."

Jetsgo's fleet of 160-seat MD83 and 100-passenger Fokker 100 aircraft - none newer than eight years old - were "gas-guzzlers, maintenance hogs," Erickson said.

That pinched hard as the cost of fuel spiralled upward over the past year, while operational problems multiplied.

Jetsgo stranded hundreds of people during a Christmas snowstorm, and Transport Canada ordered it to fly no higher than 28,000 feet because of flight-manual deficiencies uncovered after a thrilling landing in Calgary in January, which resulted in minor damage.

On March 4, a Jetsgo plane scattered pieces on a Toronto runway after engine trouble, and the following day an engine problem caused an unscheduled stop in South Carolina.

But as recently as two weeks ago Jetsgo was still expanding, adding flights between Vancouver and Regina with $1 promotional fares.

"It's been obvious from the response that consumers appreciate
competition and the value it produces," Michel Leblanc, the founder and president of the privately owned airline, said then, proclaiming Jetsgo as "Canada's only true national low-cost airline."

It was still advertising a "lucky penny sale - fly across Canada and the U.S. for a penny" in newspapers published Friday.

Details of its collapse are likely to come out of court proceedings under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, but "I don't believe we're ever going to see them come out of this restructured, like Air Canada has," Erickson said.

This is "unfortunate for consumers, marvellous for WestJet, marvellous for Air Canada," he added, as well as being disastrous for the Montreal-based airline's 1,200 or so employees.

As for ticket holders, lawyer Kershman said that if they can't get relief from their credit-card issuers or from the travel-industry compensation plans in some provinces, they rank among Jetsgo creditors "right at the bottom rung."

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