Austin Jet International Closes Operations

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Austin Jet International Closes Operations

Austin Jet International Ltd. has shut down operations and filed for bankruptcy liquidation. The company -- which for 20 years chartered flights and sold and serviced airplanes and helicopters -- closed earlier this month and started liquidating assets under Chapter 7 of the federal bankruptcy code. Austin Jet racked up $14.2 million in debt, according to its Oct. 7 bankruptcy petition (U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Austin Division, Case No. 02-14031). Secured creditors have liens on nearly all the company's $2.6 million in assets. Austin Jet's revenue dropped drastically last year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the company was unable to recover in the turbulent economy, lawyers associated with the bankruptcy say. According to financial statements submitted to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Austin and reported by ADM, Austin Jet's gross revenue topped $33.2 million in 2000. Last year, revenue fell to $18 million. The company took in $13.5 million this year before it went out of business.

Many say that Austin Jet's clientele ran the gamut. Local businesses and politicians were the mainstay of its charter operations, and customers from around the globe approached Austin Jet for aircraft parts, modifications and maintenance. Austin Jet also bought, sold and leased a variety of small airplanes and helicopters. The company was based at Austin's Robert Mueller Municipal Airport until that airport closed in 1999. Rather than follow most aviation traffic to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Austin Jet chose a less expensive route by relocating to Horseshoe Bay Resort's private airport, about 50 miles west of Austin.

According to AIN's reporting of court records, the bulk of Austin Jet's debt is owed to three lenders, all of which are secured creditors holding liens. Danbury, Conn.-based GE Capital Corp. is the largest creditor, claiming nearly $9.9 million. Raiffeisen Zentralbank in Austria is owed $1.9 million, and American Bank of Texas in Marble Falls is owed $772,257.

Austin Jet has told the Bankruptcy Court that funds won't be available to about 200 unsecured creditors collectively owed $1.6 million.