Archive for Saturday, September 21, 2002

Hooters owner makes Vanguard offer

September 21, 2002

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— A group headed by the owner of the Hooters restaurant chain offered Friday to buy some of the assets of bankrupt Vanguard Airlines Inc.

Hooters Air LLC, led by Hooters of America owner Robert Brooks, hopes to establish a new commercial airline based in Kansas City, Mo.

Hooters Air would not reveal details about the plan, including how much it offered Vanguard's board of directors for the assets Friday. But Hooters spokesman Mike McNeil said the figure was a "very small part of the overall funding" to restart the airline.

All of Vanguard's airplanes were leased, but Hooters Air plans to buy assets such as airplane parts, ground equipment, furniture and fixtures.

Aviation analysts said the main asset that any potential buyer would want through the bankruptcy process is Vanguard's operating certificate.

Scott Dickson, Vanguard's chairman, said he could not reveal details of the proposal.

"We'll review it internally with our board. If it's appropriate, we'll involve the court and creditors in the process," Dickson said, adding that he expected the internal review to take a few days.

A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Kansas City on a request from Vanguard to sell about $4.6 million in assets some of which Hooters Air wants to buy.

Hooters Air already has given Vanguard about $50,000 per week since mid-August to maintain a skeleton staff while it considered whether to buy the assets of the low-fare carrier, which shut down and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection July 30.

Hooters Air said it hoped to use former Vanguard employees to build the new airline.

More than 1,000 workers were laid off when Vanguard closed.

Hooters Air did not say how many routes the airline would fly, though Brooks' attorney, A.J. Block, has said in the past that it would fly about five of Vanguard's current routes.

"As commonly known, and despite the financial problems of many airlines, the focus of Hooters Air has been to find value in a company and maximize its potential, with a goal of bringing Hooters service principles of quality and friendliness to the airline industry in Kansas City," Hooters said Friday in a news release.

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