Troubled SkyGreece Airline Temporarily Suspends Operations

NEW YORK – SkyGreece, the Canada-based discount airline that has angered and frustrated hundreds of travelers to Greece with its abrupt flight cancellations and poor communication, finally issued a message.

On the evening of August 27 the company declared it must “temporarily cease all operations,” and that it expects to resume its flights “soon.”

That SkyGreece did not provide a specific date for resuming operations was met with skepticism.

Hundreds of travelers remain stranded as a result of the cancellations.

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The National Herald has attempted to communicate with the airline’s principals, including investor Ken Stathakis. During a call to the Octagon Restaurant in Toronto, owned by Stathakis, TNH was told he was not there and that no one at the establishment had any dealings with the airline.

Aris Sideratos, the owner of SkyWay Tours Ltd. a travel agency that sold some of the SkyGreece tickets, issued a statement in which he said, among other things, “SkyGreece Airlines would like to apologize to all of its passengers who have been affected as a result of the company’s current operational crisis…The founders, managers, and employees of SkyGreece care deeply about their passengers and have been working around the clock to resolve the problem.”

Sideratos was more agitated in his response to questions from CTV: “We have absolutely no clue of what’s going to happen to all the passengers…I must have received 30 to 40 calls from Greece over the last couple of days…and unfortunately, we don’t know what to tell them.”

CTV reported, “he said he expects to hear from SkyGreece soon so he can help his clients get home, adding that so far he’s been unable to find enough space on flights to help his stranded clients. He said most flights are sold out.”

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Travel agent Jimmy Georgiadis, based in Montreal, also sold SkyGreece tickets. He says people should check with their travel agencies about insurance coverage and that “Anyone who bought tickets using a credit card directly from the airline is advised to call their credit card company to see if they’re covered. In Quebec, those who bought their tickets through a travel agency are automatically protected by a provincial fund that exists to protect travelers,” noted CTV.

SkyGreece has told customers to contact their travel agents to arrange alternative flight plans.

Although customers will still have to buy their return tickets for other airlines, they can seek reimbursement from SkyGreece when they return home.

On August 27 the airline cancelled a flight from Toronto’s Pearson International, which followed cancellations on August 26 of three flights to and from Toronto.

CTV quoted a statement from Mark Bonokoski, a spokesperson for Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, that the Canadian government was “aware of the long delay experienced” by passengers, adding, “please be assured that our government expects consumers to be treated fairly by air carriers, and a process is in place for the impartial investigation of concerns.”

Bonokoski told passengers to write directly to SkyGreece and that if they did not receive satisfaction, that they should contact the Canadian Transportation Agency at 1-888-222-2592.

SkyGreece, which has been in operation for about a year, owns only one plane, which is based in Toronto, and leases a second one that is based in New York.

One of those planes has been grounded at Pearson for the last couple of days.

Frustrated passengers created a Facebook group called “SkyGreece Troubles,” where one person reported that the Pearson grounding is the result of the airline’s having failed to pay landing fees for the airport.

CTV reported that SkyGreece itself has declared that they are dealing with “system-wide, multiday delay” as a result of recent technical issues. The airline did not elaborate what those issues were but said they suffered “financial setbacks” shortly after launching its international service in May due to the Greek economic crisis. The airline said there was an “immediate and dramatic reduction” in ticket sales, but company officials worked to maintain its scheduled service.”