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Avantair Grounds Piaggios, Furloughs Workers

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Florida-based fractional Avantair employs about 500 people, is the target of a class-action lawsuit, and Wednesday said that it is furloughing pilots and workers while seeking financing to keep its aircraft and continue operations. Last summer, a company Piaggio Avanti turboprop lost its left elevator during flight and landed safely with passengers on board. And the company has grounded its entire fleet twice in the past eight months to conduct safety reviews. As the company was filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Wednesday, employees learned through a company letter that they would not be paid for their work since June 8.

In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, the company said it was addressing liquidity issues and pursuing alternative financing arrangements. But the class action suit may complicate matters even further. The suit alleges that since October, when the company furloughed workers and conducted safety inspections following the elevator incident, Avantair failed to adequately service its customers. Avantair is being sued separately by an individual businessman who filed papers earlier this month alleging that the company failed to provide service.

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