PEACHTREE CITY, GA: World Airways, the subsidiary of Global Aviation Holdings, has ceased operations after 61 years. The company operated its last flight on March 26, 2014.
The airline was founded in 1948 and since then has relied heavily on U.S. military contracts to fly cargo and passenger charter flights worldwide using a variety of aircraft that have included in the more recent past DC-8s, DC-10s, MD-11s and B747-400s.
For many years, World Airways flourished under its legendary owner Ed Daly – who, amongst other accomplishments, famously operated the last passenger B727 flight (below) out of Da Nang after the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.
In November 2013 current owners Global Aviation Holdings filed for bankruptcy protection – the second time in a year. Since then it has been looking for funding to help it restructure, but apparently without success.
In its Chapter 11 filing last year the company cited the unexpected cancellation of military charters by the U.S. Air Mobility Command (AMC) and the further unexpected cancellation of "expansion flying by the AMC" this year. At the time, the airline said the result would lead to "significant over-capacity in the military cargo charter business".
On March 25, the airline's first lien holder declared World Airways in default on its loan and stopped providing funding. Since then, the company has laid off 325 employees including 109 pilots and 146 flight attendants.
Eric Bergesen, World Airways' COO commented: "The battle to save World has been difficult. A lot of people have worked hard to try to save our airline. Despite this regrettable outcome, I sincerely thank each of our employees for their dedication and continued support as we attempted to build a future for the company."
World joins a growing list of freighter-operators that have either not emerged from, or have reduced capacity since, the Great Recession. As described by Lufthansa Cargo recently, the roll call includes: JAL Cargo, Air-France-KLM-Martinair Cargo, EVA Air Cargo, Jade Cargo International, Singapore Airlines Cargo, Air Cargo Germany, Evergreen, Aeroflot Cargo, and IAG Cargo.