Highland Airways is accepting bookings for March as negotiations with a potential purchaser for the troubled “paper plane” operator enter an important new stage.
The Inverness-based company, which holds the contract to fly daily newspapers to Sumburgh, came close to collapse last month when it admitted it was struggling to survive in the volatile economic climate.
It initially stopped taking any bookings in order to “protect” its customers. However as talks with a mystery new owner got underway it later announced it would accept bookings for February only.
Now the order book has been opened up for March as well, as talks with the company’s new suitor are continuing with “cautious optimism”, according to Highland Airways bosses.
A statement released on Thursday said the company had signed an exclusivity agreement with a potential purchaser of the company’s entire share capital.
The potential owner, which has still not been named, is negotiating with its key stakeholders and creditors before any final deal can be made.
“Subject to satisfactory resolution of these ongoing negotiations the board of Highland Airways are now cautiously optimistic,” says the statement.
“We are now accepting bookings on all Highland Airways scheduled flights until the end of March. Bookings beyond this point are not currently being taken but will be available as soon as possible.”
Launched in 1991 as Air Alba, Highland Airways operates on many island routes in Scotland and Wales.
The company has been struggling despite a management buy-out four years ago backed by a £260,000 cash injection from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.