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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 4:48 p.m., Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Canadian airline that flew to Maui is shutting down

Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Faced with empty seats and soaring costs, tiny Harmony Airways is headed for a forced landing early next month.

The privately owned boutique carrier announced today it is ending its scheduled flights to Toronto on Friday and all other scheduled flights by April 9.

The airline had regular flights to Maui.

Peter Buecking, a member of Harmony's advisory team, said the airline was not bankrupt and is restructuring as a going concern.

The four-plane, Vancouver-based carrier served popular U.S. holiday destinations such as Maui, Las Vegas and Palm Springs, Calif., and San Francisco.

But its expansion ambitions, including plans to fly into China, stumbled and billionaire Vancouver businessman David Ho, who founded Harmony in 2002, was unwilling to keep funding the operation.

Neither Ho nor acting president Kirk Henderson, who replaced previous CEO Gary Collins in December, were at a news conference announcing the shutdown.

It was left to Buecking, an airline industry veteran who joined the company three weeks ago, to explain that Harmony would maintain full service until the last flight and issue full refunds for any bookings past its shutdown dates.

Most of the airline's 350 employees, who are non-union, will be laid off but given generous severance packages and strong recommendation letters, he said.