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This industry is never dull, always something and sadly too often I find some funny business going on, as this industry due to its high asset value seems to attract a lot dubious entrepreneurs, executives and politicians that over the years have destroyed many good airlines.
I have been following the sad Rise and Fall of Curacao’s based Insel Air, which was founded in 1993 but commenced first operation in August, 2006 with a single Embraer EMB-110-P1 ‘Bandit’ serving the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao). This airline did well for 10 years, and then shareholders took out their money, then $US 96 million was allowed to accrue in ticket sales in Venezuela, and quickly things unraveled from a lack of cash, maintenance was deferred and it all went to shit real fast in 2016.
It quickly grew and added MD-80’s in 2009, it would grow to around 17 aircraft, from Fokker F50’s, Fokker F70’s to MD-80’s, and it would include InselAir Aruba as Curacao is NOT a FAA CAT 1 airport, InselAir could not fly directly from Curacao but InselAir Aruba could from Aruba.
By 2016 trouble was emerging for InselAir as it grew to 23 destinations as far as Quito (1,700 Km from Aruba in a F70?), Ecuador and Manaus, Brazil and probably grew too quickly while CEO Albert Kluyver allowed its Venezuelan accounts receivables to climb to 800 million Bolivar for Curacao based InselAir ($US 67 million, or $US 49 million book value) and for Aruba based InselAir Aruba 348 million Bolivar ($US 29 million, or $US 26 million book value), a ridiculous A/R for a small airline, and always very suspicious.
In fact a few years before, Albert Kluyver and other shareholders had already ‘cashed out’ their initial investment and I am sure from there on cash was a problem, yet why cash out when things were good? or were they good?
By late 2016, CEO Albert Kluyver hired Global Aviation Partners (GAP) registered in Singapore, a company well-known to me, to try to find a foreign investor, most notably HNA Group and to find some used A319’s to replace its fuel-guzzling MD-80’s. Well GAP was useless, I know they did nothing over the 3 years I tried to help them get something done (SLM, InselAir, EV-55, Y-12 dealership, Canada Jetlines, etc.), just BS.
Anyway, they fed CEO Albert Kluyver BS, as several articles came out in 2016 about a new investor and A319’s, that never came, he was dupped by GAP and he believed they would deliver on their mandate, always check out who you are hiring, make sure they are professionals with experience and a record of success not just BS.
Eventually, InselAir was canceling flights due to AOG aircraft, as there was no money for maintenance and the ultimate kick in the head was that pilots refused to fly un-airworthy aircraft.
This grounded the airline, and it was shameful that it was not the local CAA, but pilots themselves who could not and would not fly InselAir aircraft, says novels about the corrupt and inept local CAA which explains why they are still a FAA CAT 2 airport today and will remain so for years to come.
For a little while InselAir leased aircraft from its Aruba based InselAir Aruba (P4 registration) as Aruba’s Ministry of Transport/CAA heads above the BS in Curacao’s CAA. Then they leased an F70 from “mickey mouse” operator Fly All Ways of Suriname (same owner as Blue Wing Airlines in Suriname) which had 3 AN-28 crashes in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 27 dead, and no on the EU No Fly Black List.
Moving on, by 2017, obviously, GAP found no investor or A319’s for InselAir as expected/predicted. CEO Albert Kluyer announced his resignation in February and Canadian Gilles Filiatreault came on board as CEO, and the airline was really down to just 1 x F50 fling the ABC airlines ever since, with occasional flights to St. Maarten and wet leased aircraft from various operators, like Dominican Wings, Swift Air (USA) to Sunrise Airways (Haiti).
The brand name has taken a beating, locals were pissed at flight cancellations, late flights and I think the brand has to go, and the airline has many questions to answer to.
Insel Air was given a $US 18.3 million (33 million ANG) loan from the Curacao government for a 51% share in the airline, and the search for a 49% strategic partner was on for the past 4 months or so, which I knew was going to drag some BS shell company out of nowhere with big promises.
Today, that is all it still has, one F50 and now a Venezuelan E190 from state-owned Conviasa, which given the political situation and the debt raises serious questions on what is the Curacao government doing with President Maduro’s corrupt dictatorship? it smells of a “deal” of some sort to me.
On July 20th, 2018 the Minister of Economic Development, Steven Martina announced that the future of InselAir is in the hands of Miami based One Laser Group LL? Well, since I have never heard of it, and I could find zero information on this company, it was as expected some BS non-operating LLC.
The company claims it is a “conglomerate of companies that invest in various sectors like air freight, logistics in food & pharmaceuticals and oil supply”??
Yet NO web page? no record of any business, and then a slew of other LLC that sound important but look like empty shell companies Shs Group Corp., Cargo Laser LLC, Sertec International LLC, Kemtek Inc., Avion Logistics LLC, Kf Foods Import LLC, Kf Chemicals LLC then some Martha Fuenmayor and Patricia Morena, it all sounds like a BS scam of some sort, maybe something for the FBI to investigate?
This One Laser Company LLC was incorporated On May 1, 2018, just 81 days before this selection, and here we go with the BS.
Principal Address 7769 NW 48th St., Suite 270, Miami, FL 33166 (SEE Document of Incorporation below). Also, below see my quick hand-drawn diagram of the various so-called owners/beneficiaries.
Incorporation: click to open
Ownership/Beneficiaries: click to open
One Laser Group LLC, promises to start with an initial investment of ANG 20 million ($US 11.1 million), “the group sees strong point in the name Insel, which positioned itself so powerfully in the past, and wants to keep the name”? oh boy!
I smell corruption, but not sure what it is, but I suspect it has to do with the book value of $US 75 million in Venezuela, the E190 lease from the state-owned airline Conviasa “stinks” for sure, it has dropped all international flights because it had no foreign exchange to pay bills, including aircraft insurance, it is government-owned which means its corrupt, anything it makes is stolen by politicians, that is Venezuela today, where the IMF forecasts inflation will hit 1,000,000% (yes 1 million) by the end of 2018 and the economy will shrink by 18% this year.
The government of Nicolas Maduro is coming to an end, either a military coup or civil war will replace him, as the people of Venezuela have nothing today, they lost it all, and those at the top are looking for quick bucks and an exit before they are captured, imprisoned, tried and maybe even executed.
Now, back to corruption in Curacao, what the hell is going on? the Government is feeding its people BS about InselAir and its new 51% partner, look the government says ‘InselAir Bankrupt Without One Laser Group’ really? it already burned through $US 18.3 million in the past year, and what did they do with it? they have 1 x F50 operational?
Another $11.1 million at this rate will be gone in by next spring, and let’s see if One Laser Group LCC even has $US 11.1 million, what do you get? and AOC and 1 operational F50? and a few more F50’s and old MD-80’s all needing overhauls and big checks, as they have been standing around, yet the calendar clock for overhauls is ticking whether you fly or stand around.
There is more to this, I suspect that somehow Venezuela’s corrupt government will get some money out to InselAir through some ‘funny’ agreement with Curacao government (in exchange for exile in Curacao for Maduro and ‘gang’?) and One Laser Group LCC (nice return on $US 11.1 million), and everyone gets something for keeping InselAir solvent?
Anyway, the revolving door of CEOs are spinning fast, CEO Gilles Filiatreault is gone, so is CEO Jan Heppener and now CEO Edward Heerenveen, yes all that in the past 20 months, that says novels about the “mess” within InselAir.
To the people of Curacao, question your Government more? One Laser Group LLC is nothing, its a shell company, maybe they have money, maybe not, but will they turn InselAir around, don’t count on it.
It can be done, but by people who know how to turn an airline around, which is totally different than running an airline day today, don’t believe everything the government is telling you.
Ah the good old days of InselAir, so sad to see airlines with so much potential be destroyed from within, mismanagement and possibly corruption!
Curacao Chronicle – July 25, 2018
InselAir Bankrupt Without One Laser Group’
The next three or four months will be extremely important for InselAir’s continued existence. This was declared by Etienne Ys, chairman of the committee that is negotiating with Laser Cargo.
The One Laser Group wants to invest in the airline. InselAir has a postponement of payment until the end of August of this year. If the creditors do not agree with the plans presented by Laser, this undoubtedly means the end of InselAir, according to the president of the negotiating committee, Etienne Ys.
PRESS RELEASES ON InselAir AND ONE LASER GROUP LLC