Former Hawkair workers receive final paycheque

Former employees of the bankrupt Hawkair received cheques last week of up to $2,000 in payout.

  • Mon Nov 28th, 2016 7:00pm
  • News

Bankruptcy notice affixed to the door of the Hawkair offices at the Northwest Regional Airport.

FORMER employees of the bankrupt Hawkair received cheques last week of up to $2,000 each as the trustee appointed to sell its assets and deal with creditors continued its work.

The employees are considered secured creditors and so are ahead of unsecured ones and $2,000 is the maximum any employee could receive under bankruptcy regulations, said Russell Law of MacKay Crowe, the trustee firm which is handling the former aviation company’s affairs after it filed for bankruptcy Nov. 18.

“The employees had been paid up to Nov. 4 and the last payroll was Nov. 10 so in a sense this is to be their final payday,” said Law of the more than 40 former employees who received the cheques.

Amounts varied depending upon the part time or full time status of each employee and Law said the total payout amounted to approximately $77,000.

Under federal legislation each employee can also receive up to $1,900 each representing further unpaid wages, vacation, severance and termination pay, Law said.

Hawkair, which had been a freight carrying enterprise starting in 1994, converted to a passenger service in 2000 offering a Terrace to Vancouver service with one Dash 8-100 aircraft.

It then expanded, flying to Vancouver from Smithers and Prince Rupert and the northeast as well as Terrace.

But it began retrenching in the early part of this decade and in the end couldn’t fill enough seats to sustain its operations.

In January, Hawkair ceased being an independent carrier and instead had its aircraft and crew flying for Central Mountain Airlines, which is owned by the same company that owned Hawkair.

In September, Central Mountain, citing declining passenger counts, a softening regional economy and competition, cancelled the Terrace to Vancouver service using a Hawkair aircraft.

Trustee MacKay Crowe is now working on refining creditor claims and going over Hawkair’s assets in preparation for a creditors’ meeting to take place here Dec. 12.

Hawkair had been leasing two Dash 8–100 aircrafts from Calgary-based leasing company LAD  Inc. and both were flown back to the Alberta city last week.

LAD Inc. is an unsecured creditor and has a claim of $632,061.15.

The largest unsecured creditor is another Calgary-based leasing company, Avmax, and its unsecured claim is for nearly $3 million.

Based on filings to date, Avmax owes Hawkair just under $1 million, not enough to cover its own claim.

The second largest of the unsecured creditor claims has been filed by Hawkair’s parent company and that amount is for $1.5 million.

Speaking from the Central Mountain head office in Smithers last week, Doug McCrea called the bankruptcy a sad occasion.

“Hawkair certainly has been a longtime supporter of the community and it will certainly be missed,” he said, referring to how it has provided tickets for various charitable causes.

McCrea said the state of the regional economy worked against Hawkair’s existence.

To date, filings place Hawkair’s liabilities at $5.7 million with assets of $1.7 million.

Northwest Regional Airport, which had been Hawkair’s home airport since the days of its freight operations, is a preferred creditor owing $19,613.37 for rent as are G. and N. Hull at $14,861.50, also for rent.

The unsecured creditors’ list includes Prince George airport operator the Prince George Port Authority at $117,422.62 and the Prince Rupert Airport Authority at $49,228.30.

The list of items as assets owned by Hawkair includes what is described as a collection of prints by the well-known northwestern B.C. artist Roy Vickers, carrying an original purchase price of $18,181.69.