Awkward: St John’s Airport Grounds National Airlines Until They Pay Up

National Airlines is a small charter and cargo airline based out of Orlando, Florida. They have a fleet of six planes, including three passenger planes and three cargo planes.

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The airline operates a very limited schedule, as they primarily do military charters.

One of the routes they’ve been operating since January 2016 is between Orlando’s Sanford Airport and St. John’s, Newfoundland. The service operates once a week, on Fridays. This past Friday the National Airlines 757 landed in St. John’s as usual… except it wasn’t allowed to leave, causing the return flight to be canceled. According to St. John’s Airport, the airline owes them a lot of money.

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Here’s the airport’s press release:

National Airlines Boeing 757 aircraft was prevented from departing St. John’s International Airport on Friday, October 28, 2016 under a court order from the Supreme Court of NL due to substantial arrears in payments owing to St. John’s International Airport Authority. The aircraft was scheduled to depart St. John’s International Airport at 5:45pm on Friday, but will not be released for service until outstanding payments are received.

St. John’s International Airport Authority exhausted all avenues to collect these payments prior to obtaining this court order. While this action was necessary, the Airport Authority understands and appreciates the impact it may have had on passengers who planned to travel on this flight on Friday. At midday Sunday, National Airlines advised the Airport Authority that all passengers who were scheduled to fly on Friday have been protected through either a rebooking on other airlines or through receipt of a full refund.

National Airlines began passenger airline operations at St. John’s International Airport in January 2016 with direct airline service to Sanford Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Florida on a weekly basis.

Well, the airline had planned on terminating their service between Orlando and St. John’s this coming January anyway, and they’re apparently refusing to pay. So National Airlines has responded by terminating the service early, and won’t be operating their remaining schedule to St. John’s.

Of course this doesn’t answer the question of what will happen to the plane. The airport isn’t letting the plane take off (as you can see below, they’ve literally parked a truck in front of the engine so that it can’t move), so even if they cancel the service, presumably the airport still isn’t letting the plane leave.

It sure makes you wonder about the financial situation of National Airlines. We’re talking about a once weekly flight here, so I have to wonder how much of a bill they could rack up. Regardless, the fact that they can’t (or refuse to) pay it raises a lot of red flags. Then again, perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise, since there have been rumblings about their poor financial situation for a while.

Comments

  1. This is like parking on a no parking street day after day and figuring your luck won’t ever run out. Then you get a boot on your car and are completely shocked. Just plain silly.

  2. Not sure that parking a truck in front is necessary. ATC can just refuse to give it permission to taxi.

  3. @Martin

    If the airport authority here in the U.S. were to call the tower and tell us not to allow a certain A/C to taxi, there would have to be a safety reason to have us withhold permission. The airport does not have authority over ATC as such, so parking a truck there is probably a good idea.

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