OurPLANE CEO Says Clients Were Offered Protection
The CEO of OurPLANE says the company is following the bankruptcy process to the letter. Graham Casson also told AVweb that all OurPLANE clients were given the legal means to protect their investment when they signed the five-year shared-use contract. Dozens of OurPLANE participants have come forward in recent days claiming they were not repaid for their share of the aircraft sold at the end of the five-year term. But Casson said the contract contained a clause that allowed clients to file an FAA lien against the aircraft and those who exercised that right have been refunded the secured amount. Those who did not file the liens have been named creditors in the bankruptcy. Casson said it's "unfortunate" there were clients who lost their investments but the company provided them with the legal means they needed to protect their money. "I can lead a horse to water...," he told AVweb. Casson wouldn't say if there was money left after the secured creditors were paid or what happened to it. He did, however, note that the market for used Cirruses is weak and he put their average value at less than $200,000, less than half the original purchase price. Casson also told AVweb that the demise of OurPLANE has nothing to do with his participation in a relatively new venture called Exclusive Jetz, a jet management company that currently looks after four Embraer Phenom 100s. Casson declined to discuss the structure of Exclusive Jetz or the level of his participation in it. Meanwhile, clients who appear set to lose their money in the bankruptcy are organizing.
According to AOPA one former client claims to have a group of 33 former customers who intend to pursue criminal action against Casson. The first meeting of creditors in the bankruptcy will be held Nov. 2 in Buffalo. Casson said OurPLANE was the victim of a "one-two punch" that sealed its fate despite his and his staff's best efforts. The first blow was the bankruptcy of Eclipse Aircraft. OurPLANE intended to operate a fleet of Eclipse 500s in addition to the SR22s. The financial collapse of late 2008 was the killing blow. It occurred as the original five-year contracts on the SR22s were expiring and hardly any of the customers renewed. That, he said, "eradicated the business."