Hello (Zurich) today (October 21) suspended all operations and filed for bankruptcy protection. Previously the company launched operations on August 6, 2004. The charter airline issued the following statement:
The airline Hello has temporarily stopped its flight operations. Reasons are the cancellation of large contracts, a dwindling tourism business and high fuel costs. Additionally there were serious errors of an executive manager in the finance department. Hello operated 4 Airbus A320 aircraft with approximately 140 employees. A social plan is in place.
The management and board of Hello AG have decided, to temporarily cease operation of the airline on Sunday night, 23.00 on 21st of October. Up until that point, all efforts to recapitalize the company have failed. All aircraft are currently on the ground in Switzerland. The management was able to avoid an uncontrolled breakdown of the operation. Tour Operators are informed and are already looking for alternative travel opportunities for their clients. For the approximately 140 employees a social plan in place. Also a care team is ready to support them.
The reason for the bankruptcy is the financial implosion of two large French customers, ever higher fuel costs and the strong Swiss Franc, which led to the cancellation of a large contract with TUI Germany. Also there is an increasingly fierce competition in the tourism business.
Additionally, there were serious booking keeping errors by the former Chief Financial Officer. He has left the company at the end of September. All the business figures supplied to the board and the management on a weekly and monthly basis turned out to have been incorrect. Therefore, management and board were convinced that there was sufficient funding available. However, this was not the case. A detailed assessment of the figures by the new CFO uncovered this situation. All efforts to find additional liquidity yielded no results.
The board of directors and the management are very disappointed and are regretful of this situation.
Copyright Photo: Rolf Wallner. Airbus A320-214 HB-JIZ (msn 936) taxies at the Zurich base.