Great Dane Airlines ceases operations

Aalborg-based Great Dane Airlines ceased operations on the 11th of October, filing for bankruptcy on the same day. At the time of its demise, the airline operated 3 Embraer E195 jets (with a capacity of 118 passengers) bought from Irish regional airline Stobart Air in 2019 and flew to 15 destinations across Europe. Its main network consisted of seasonal charter flights from Aalborg to Southern European destinations (especially seaside resorts), of which 55% in Greece and Croatia ([Chania, Rhodes and Preveza in Greece] and [Split, Rijeka, Zadar in Croatia]), the remainder being in Spain, Italy and Portugal. Varna, a Bulgarian city by the Black Sea coast, was planned as a tourist destinations in the original network (Varna, Chania, Mallorca and Rhodes), but was later dropped.

Founded in 2018 by Mr Thomas Hugo Moller (o in Moller spelt differently in Danish) and Mr Huy Duc Nguyen, the airline began operations on the 14th of June 2019 with a charter flight (operated by one of its 3 Embraer E195s) from Aalborg to Rhodes. At this time, the airline was wholly owned by Mr Moller, after the resigning of Mr Nguyen in March 2019 due to allegations that he exagerrated his CV. In the same month, Mr Moller’s stake in the company was divided into a 90% ownership of the airline for Mr Eigild B. Christensen and a 10% ownership for Mr Moller. This was due to a loss of money on scheduled flights to Nice, Dublin and Edinburgh. The flights to Nice and Edinburgh were discontinued soon after. The airline then limited the amount of scheduled flights that it operated, but continued to offer charter flights as well as ad-hoc services for football clubs, such as Brondbyvester’s Brondby IF (o in Brondby spelt differently in Danish), located to the west of Copenhagen. It was later found out that the aircraft bought from Stobart Air were also leased to Great Dane Airlines by one of Mr Christensen’s companies, SEBC Aviation Leasing ApS. In early 2020, Great Dane Airlines announced plans to enlarge its fleet to 4 Embraers, but this never occurred. Later, in September 2020, the airline sublet 2 of its Embraers to Vietnamese leisure carrier Bamboo Airways, where they were flown on 3 different routes in Vietnam, all connecting the South Vietnamese island of Con Son (in the Con Dao archipelago) with the mainland destinations of Da Nang, Can Tho and Hanoi. These 2 aircraft were the first Embraer aircraft to be operated in Vietnam. Albeit the lease, 45 Great Dane Airlines’ employees were moved to Vietnam to operate the aircraft. The leasing period of the 2 aircraft came to end in April this year, but then Great Dane Airlines’ 3rd Embraer was sublet to Bamboo before returning to its operator in June this year. On the 11th of October this year, Great Dane Airlines ceased operations, therefore cancelling its foreseen expansion in the Netherlands and Sweden with a twice a week flight between Northern Dutch city Gronigen and the icicle-swirling plains near the Scandinavian Mountain Airport on the border with Norway. The Scandinavian Mountain Airport is close to the largest ski resorts of Sweden and Norway, respectively Sälen and Trysil.

Great Dane Airlines bankruptcy will not effect Aalborg Airport’s revenue-making capacity, as 10 airlines will continue to operate from there, nationally and on an international basis. The airport more than doubled its revenue from Q4 of 2020 to Q1 of 2021, increasing in value from $10.9 million to $26.1 million, in spite of 2 Great Dane Airlines’ aircraft being situated in Vietnam on a permanent basis during that period. On top of this, Ryanair will begin flights from Aalborg to the beautiful central Lithuanian city of Kaunas on the 1st of November. 78 of Great Dane Airlines’ employees were fired on Monday. The fact of the matter is, is that the Northern European aviation industry is finished. We saw it with Danish charter airline Jettime last year, Primera Airlines (remember their Latvian subsidiary) the year before, as well as with the closure of 4 out of 6 subsidiaries of Norwegian Air Shuttle this year. Never have I seen such implosion… and volatility on EasyJet. The ways to make money in this market have changed: gone are the days of innovative projects to faraway atolls and Maghrebian beaches. Arise the days of trading volatility! 16th of October 2021.

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