Just over a month after suspend “temporarily” its operations, ITA, the airline of the Itapemirim group, began to return its aircraft to lessors. Negotiations with the companies that own the planes were friendly and the return of all jets should take place within 15 days, according to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo. This week, two planes have already left the country.
The ITA, however, denies that these two aircraft were definitively delivered to the lessors and states that they were sent to the United States for maintenance.
“The displacement takes place because the companies responsible for maintenance are not operating in Brazil,” the airline said in a statement.
“It is enough to note that, if there were any disruption, the aircraft would be arrested by them (the lessors). In this case, the ITA itself, through its pilots, is taking the planes to the United States”. The company, whose fleet consisted of seven jets, also highlighted that “as long as they are ready, these aircraft will return to Brazil to operate the service offered by ITA”.
There is still no definition as to whether the three lessors will go to court against ITA to receive the amounts owed. Before suspending the operation, the airline had not paid them for just over a month. The trend, according to a source, is that there is no legal dispute, given that the probability of any amount being paid is considered very low.
The owner of the Itapemirim group, Sidnei Piva, has been trying to sell the airline. “We are negotiating with several investors for the acquisition of part of the company or 100%”, informed the ITA. The market, however, sees no value in the airline, according to sources. Unlike Avianca Brasil, which had its slots (landing and take-off times at airports) disputed by competitors, ITA is considered a company with only liabilities and labor debt.
Most of the ITA crew did not receive the December payment. Some also did not receive their November salary. Food allowances, food vouchers and payment of the Severance Indemnity Fund (FGTS) are delayed. The company says it is working to pay all outstanding salary payments this month.
Earlier this month, the São Paulo Public Ministry asked the Court to block the assets of businessman Sidnei Piva and declare the bankruptcy of Viação Itapemirim and ITA Transportes Aéreos.