CityWing Aviation Services Ltd have released a statement over social media in which the virtual airline announces they have cancelled all of their scheduled airline service after going into Liquidation on 10th March 2017.
The move comes just days after Van Air Europe, the company that operates the virtual airline’s flight, had their route license suspended by the UK Civil Aviation Authority over safety concerns. CityWing’s statement is as follows.
The reason for the suspension of Van Air Europe’s license is still in speculation but the event that lead to the investigation is known. On February 23rd, Van Air Let L-410UVP-E3 OK-LAZ was operating flight V9502 on behalf of Citywing from Isle of Man to Belfast City. The flight plan was filed with alternate airports as Belfast Aldergrove and Isle of Man due to possible bad weather from the oncoming Storm Doris.
The aircraft departed with 550 kg of Jet A-1 fuel (enough for the flight and reserves) and was on final approach to Belfast City Airport’s Runway 04 around 08:55L (08:55Z). The crew initiated a go around because of their low altitude, affected by increasing turbulence. Weather information for Belfast Aldergrove suggested suggested similar conditions, persuading the crew to return to Ronaldsway Airport on the Isle of Man where runway 26 would be better aligned into the wind.
The aircraft touched down safely on Runway 26 around 09:25L (09:25Z) and was about to vacate the Runway via Taxiway F when tower controllers instructed the aircraft to stop. Emergency services responded to the aircraft and the crew was subsequently instructed to shut the aircraft down. The passengers disembarked onto the runway and were taken to the terminal. The aircraft still had 200 kg of fuel on board.
Several rumours were floating around as to what happened exactly. One of these rumors is as follows. The aircraft reached the Isle of Man just before the storm. When the storm hit, winds picked up and it deemed unsafe to turn the aircraft out of the wind and taxi off the runway. The aircraft was instructed to stop and emergency services were dispatched, so that the trucks could shield the aircraft against the wind gusts. About 15 minutes later the storm front had passed and the aircraft was able to taxi to the apron.
However, this does not tie in with the information that the aircraft was instructed to shut down on the runway and that the passengers disembarked there.
Following the incident, on Feb 24th 2017, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) told another aviation news website that they have no knowledge of this occurrence and that the Czech Republic’s CAA is investigating. The UK CAA added on Feb 25th 2017, that as long as Czech Republic’s CAA is investigating, the operating permit for Van Air Europe in the UK has been suspended.
When confronted with information later on Feb 25th 2017, that the Czech CAA is not investigating, the UK CAA responded on Feb 25th 2017, that they are again examining the current situation. Czech Media reported on Mar 1st 2017, that UK’s CAA told them Czech Republic’s CAA, who have regulatory oversight over the operator, is investigating the occurrence of Feb 23rd 2017. As a result, the permit to operate in the UK has been suspended.
However, the Civil Aviation Authority of Czech Republic told Czech media, that they are not investigating the occurrence and that they are cooperating with the UK CAA. Therefore it is still unclear which CAA grounded the airline indeed and why. Van Air received it operational permit from the UK CAA. The Isle of Man CAA oversees Ronaldsway Airport and the CAA of Czech Republic oversees the operator, as all Van Air aircraft are on the Czech Civil Register.
The airline released a statement on the day. They confirmed that:
“Flight V9-502 returned to Isle of Man due to turbulence on final approach to Belfast’s runway 04. The aircraft was subsequently instructed by tower to stop after landing and a few minutes later to shut down.”
The airline received a brief letter from the UK Civil Aviation Authority stating:
“The incident is indicative of deficiency of operational control.”
The airline also confirmed that:
The aircraft took off with 550kg of fuel and had 200kg of fuel remaining (above final fuel reserve) after landing at Ronaldsway.”
The crew would have needed to declare emergency, had they needed to go around again at Isle of Man and divert to Manchester or Blackpool. The airline does not know why emergency services were present at the runway, their crew did not declare emergency and somebody else must have declared emergency for them.
On Feb 28th 2017 the airline reported that they had received a letter from Czech Republic’s CAA stating:
“The CAA is satisfied with the immediate safety actions taken by the airline and proposed further actions to improve, no investigation was taking place and no further actions were taken by Czechia’s CAA.”
On Mar 10th 2017 UK’s Civil Aviation Authority reported that the permit for Van Air to operate in the UK is still suspended. In early March, Van Air Europe positioned all their aircraft out of Isle of Man to mainland Europe.
In order to keep their services flying, CityWing chartered in other companies to fly their routes. Stansted based charter company Titan Airways supplied a Boeing 737 that was temporarily based at the Isle of Man for flights to Belfast, Glasgow and Newcastle
This was soon replaced by a SprintAir Saab 340A SP-KPR (MSN 139), brought in from Warsaw, Poland.
CityWing also released some very misleading schedules for dates leading up to the 24th of March, in which many days and dates are mixed up.
However this schedule will stand for nothing as on Mar 10th 2017 Citywing announced, that the company has entered liquidation and that all flights of March 11th 2017 and onwards had been cancelled. CityWing’s statement read
As a result of Van Air losing their route licenses on Friday 24th February 2017, the company has found it difficult to source suitable viable aircraft to fulfil our contracts. The company has tried to offer a service whilst suffering considerable losses but these have proved unfortunately to be commercially unsustainable.
It is therefore with much sadness and deep regret that the Directors of Citywing Aviation Services Limited have had to take the difficult decision to close the company today and put the company into liquidation. This decision has not been taken lightly and has been made to protect creditors.
Flights on 11th March 2017 onwards have all been cancelled
We request that you do not turn up at the airports for your flights as there will be no one to assist.
A liquidator will be appointed and they will advise in due course on how to get a refund on your tickets.
There will also be guidance on the UK CAA website from Monday 13th March 2017.
For those passengers on the Cardiff to Anglesey service, we have been advised that your Citywing tickets will be valid on train services out of Cardiff, and from stations between Bangor and Holyhead.
On behalf of all at Citywing, we all apologise for the inconvenience caused and thank you all for your support over the last 4 years.
Citywing Aviation Services Limited
Thank you CityWing Aviation Service Limited for your 4 years of service.