Security deposit covers airline’s debt to Myrtle Beach airport

dbryant@thesunnews.comJanuary 4, 2013 

Vision Airlines left more than just some disgruntled travelers when it ended its first summer in Myrtle Beach.

The carrier, which started serving Myrtle Beach International Airport in late May, owed $57,000 to the airport – a debt that was covered by a security deposit Vision was required to pay before starting service at MYR.

Vision ended its seasonal service in September, a bit earlier than originally planned. The carrier, which hasn’t yet said whether it would resume summer service this year, had paid $71,562.15 to the airport through the security deposit, roughly what it cost Vision to operate at the airport for two months, airport spokesman Kirk Lovell said. MYR requires the deposit of all carriers that operate there.

Vision representatives could not be reached for comment.

Vision also has debts at other airports where it operated, including $146,974 owed to Northwest Florida Regional Airport, where Vision operated in 2011. Vision missed the Monday deadline to arrange a payment plan for the debt, Okaloosa County spokeswoman Kathy Newby said. The Okaloosa County Commissioners voted in December to pursue legal action against Vision if it didn’t meet the Monday deadline.

This was the second time in 2012 that requiring a security deposit paid off for Myrtle Beach International Airport. During the summer, the airport was able to get some of the money it was owed by bankrupt Direct Air thanks to the bond, which the bankruptcy court judge ruled wasn’t considered property of the bankruptcy estate, so the ongoing Chapter 7 liquidation proceedings shouldn’t hold up payment to the airports department through that bond.

The airport received $151,000 through the bond; it was owed $441,267.17 by Direct Air, according to bankruptcy filings. Passengers, businesses, fuel companies, airports and others owed money by Direct Air have lined up through bankruptcy court aiming to get paid.

Vision was one of the carriers for Direct Air, which abruptly stopped flying and filed for bankruptcy in March. Vision picked up some of those flights and started flying to Myrtle Beach under its own name in May. Vision was fined $50,000 by the U.S. Department of Transportation last month for its role in the abrupt cancellation of Direct Air flights in March that left hundreds of passengers stranded. Two other carriers also have been fined.

Vision carried 11,362 passengers out of Myrtle Beach during the five months it served the area in 2012, according to airport statistics. The carrier at least twice left passengers frustrated after daylong delays in flights.

Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or at dbryant@thesunnews.com or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_dawnbryant.

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