August 3, 2010

Arrow Air to auction off assets

Bankruptcy filing closes book on cargo airline's checkered history.

By Mark B. Solomon

The long, turbulent, and colorful saga of Arrow Air appears to have come to an end.

Arrow, once the largest all-cargo airline operating in Miami, plans to sell the business at auction on Aug. 25. But first a federal bankruptcy judge in Miami must accept the proposed schedule at a hearing tentatively set for Aug. 4, Bloomberg News reported on its website.

Arrow Air, which had been renamed Arrow Cargo, ceased operations just before filing on June 30 for protection under the federal bankruptcy code. The June 30 filing was Arrow's third such filing in its 63-year history.

Arrow wants bids submitted by Aug. 23, according to Bloomberg. At its shuttering, the company operated 60 weekly flights with seven leased freighters. It also, at one point, had a strong cargo charter business along with its scheduled service.

Founded in 1947 by George E. Batchelor, Arrow was as recently in the mid-1990s the largest cargo hauler at Miami International Airport. It also had a substantial military charter operation. Yet it endured more than its share of management turmoil and turnover, and through the decades, it was run by multiple owners.

In December 1985, one of its DC-8s crashed on takeoff at Gander, Newfoundland, killing 248 soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division and eight Arrow employees. The subsequent unfavorable media attention led to its first bankruptcy filing two months later.

A decade later, another scandal hit the embattled carrier when the Federal Aviation Administration grounded Arrow in March 1995 on grounds the carrier has improperly documented its maintenance work. A company spokesman said the action was related to the FAA's request that Arrow print out a hard copy of its fleet records, which had been stored electronically.

In early 1999, Arrow was acquired by Fine Air Services, a Miami-based firm, for $115 million. However, Fine filed for bankruptcy protection in September 2000 and subsequently merged with Arrow, keeping the Arrow name.

The new Arrow had a bumpy ride through the first half of the decade, eventually filing for bankruptcy protection in June 2004. In June 2008, Arrow was acquired by a private equity fund that controlled aviation interests in the United States and Brazil. However, after failing to find a buyer for Arrow, the investment firm said it would shutter the company.

About the Author

Mark B. Solomon
Executive Editor - News
Mark Solomon joined DC VELOCITY as senior editor in August 2008, and was promoted to his current position on January 1, 2015. He has spent more than 30 years in the transportation, logistics and supply chain management fields as a journalist and public relations professional. From 1989 to 1994, he worked in Washington as a reporter for the Journal of Commerce, covering the aviation and trucking industries, the Department of Transportation, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to that, he worked for Traffic World for seven years in a similar role. From 1994 to 2008, Mr. Solomon ran Media-Based Solutions, a public relations firm based in Atlanta. He graduated in 1978 with a B.A. in journalism from The American University in Washington, D.C.

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