Last updated: 05:51 PM ET, Sat August 29 2015

SkyGreece Airlines 'Temporarily' Ceases Operations, Stranding Fliers

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | August 29, 2015

SkyGreece Airlines 'Temporarily' Ceases Operations, Stranding Fliers

SkyGreece, a Greco-Canadian airline that commenced scheduled international service just this past May after being founded in 2012, has ceased operations. As a result, hundreds who have booked flights with the carrier must make alternative arrangements, including those stranded overseas.

This general grounding was preceded by a rash of delays and cancellations which frustrated fliers, and as legal action gains momentum, the assertion is the airline has a legal requirement to provide replacement flights.

A statement on the company’s website offers an apology to affected passengers, and says the founders, managers and employees “have been working around the clock to resolve the problem.”

Calling this suspension of service temporary, the statement elaborates on the cause of what is being termed an “operational crisis.”

Not soon after commencement of international flights in May, SkyGreece says they “suffered financial setbacks as a result of the Greek economic crisis.” The nation’s financial meltdown resulted in an “immediate and dramatic reduction in ticket sales.” On top of this, “recent technical issues” have resulted in “ a system-wide multi-day delay and significant additional expenses,” the statement said.

SkyGreece says travelers “should contact their travel agent to arrange for alternate travel and/or accommodations.”

According to a report by The Toronto Star, SkyGreece became incommunicado once its one-and-only aircraft was grounded.

Toronto’s Pearson Airport confirmed the grounding late Thursday after Shabeen Hanifa, spokesperson for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority told the Star the company’s plane was still at the airport. She added that Pearson has not heard anything from SkyGreece after being notified by the carrier that Wednesday and Thursday’s flights were canceled.

The Star noted SkyGreece’s lack of social media presence after the announcement. The carrier’s Facebook page has vanished and the company’s Twitter account has no new Tweets. However, its website does allow booking to or from two Greek cities along with Budapest, Montreal, Toronto, JFK and Zagreb.

Delays, cancellations and poor communication were plaguing the carrier even before the general flight stoppage, to the degree that a Facebook group dubbed SkyGreece Troubles has been established — with over 1,100 members and counting, the Star said.

Alex Repka, member of that group, said he was forced to use more cash than planned last week when his flight back to Toronto from Budapest was canceled.

The flight to his hometown was held up for over two hours, but as he told the Star, his flight back ended up not happening at all. “I was notified 24 hours prior to my original return flight via email that the flight would be delayed by 24 hours and that all flights would resume schedule after that.” With this in mind, he went to the airport, to be faced with nothing but a list of phone numbers.

“When I had arrived and walked to their counter, there was nobody there, just a sheet of paper stating the numbers that I could call to figure something out,” he said. There was no answer when any of these numbers were called, he told the Star.

Repka had to book a hotel room and take another flight the next day.

He faxed a complaint to SkyGreece, but has not heard back, the Star said. “Too many passengers were left in the dark,” Repka commented.

In a later report the Star said a complaint has been filed with the Canadian Transportation Agency by an air passenger rights advocate on behalf of a group of SkyGreece customers.

A major grievance, as noted by the advocate, is the airline did not provide alternative transportation for passengers after flights were canceled, even though that is its legal responsibility.

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