Lessor AWAS has filed lawsuits against Miami-based all-cargo operator Centurion Air Cargo alleging a reported $10.2 million in unpaid aircraft lease rentals.
As we reported last week, fuel supplier Chemoil took legal action against Centurion earlier this year, claiming the carrier and its affiliate SkyLease Cargo were past due on $12.9 million in fuel bills. But as we looked into the rumor of a new lawsuit from AWAS, we discovered others as well. Here is a chronological summary:
- May 2014 Fuel supplier Chemoil filed mechanic liens against all eleven freighters in the fleets of Centurion Air Cargo and sister carrier SkyLease Cargo (formerly Tradewinds Airlines). The liens would prevent the aircraft owner from selling any of the planes without first paying Chemoil.
- July 2014: Chemoil filed lis pendens notices concerning the eleven freighters in the May lawsuits, which, if enforced, could put the freighters up for auction to satisfy the debt.
- August 4 2014: AGC, an engine MRO based in Meridian, CT, filed a lawsuit against Centurion. Basic information about the suit is here.
- August 26 2014: Starr Indemnity and Liability, an insurance and investment company, filed a lawsuit against Centurion and AirMax Cargo (which offers 767 freighter service between Lima and Miami). Basic information is here.
- August 29 2014: PAFCO, an Ireland-based subsidiary of aircraft lessor AWAS, filed five separate suits against Centurion Air Cargo Inc. et al, one each concerning four MD-11Fs Centurion leases from AWAS subsidiary Pegasus Aviation Finance Company (PAFCO), and one concerning a 747-400F SkyLease Cargo leases from PAFCO. A summary of that case is here. According to a report in the South Florida Business Journal, the suits say that the plaintiffs demanded that Centurion return the planes, but the company refused.
Both Centurion Air Cargo and SkyLease Cargo (formerly TradeWinds Airlines) are controlled by industry veteran Alfonso Rey, who also controlled Cielos del Peru, which went out of business in 2010, and has been involved in many other airlines.
Between them, the Centurion and SkyLease fleets include a total of twelve freighters, used mostly in North-South service connecting Latin America to North America through Miami, but also connecting the Americas with Europe on a Miami-Amsterdam route.
SkyLease has five owned MD-11Fs (48461, 48495, 48496, 48497, 48520, all ex-China Cargo Airlines), as well as two 747-400ERFs (32870, 33096) leased from AerCap and one 747-400F (25868) leased from PAFCO and now the subject of one of the five lawsuits.
Centurion has four MD-11Fs (48426, 48427, 48429, 48430, all ex-Alitalia). Each of these freighters is the subject of a separate lawsuit filed by PAFCO. One of these aircraft has been parked since April, the other three had been flying regularly until 6 September but have remained on the ground in Miami since then.
In addition to the documented legal actions above, there are other indications of trouble for Centurion, and possibly SkyLease as well. Observers at Miami International tell Cargo Facts that all of the Centurion Cargo signs have been removed from the big new cargo facility the carrier recently leased from Aeroterm , and pilot website pprune.com cites a rumor that Centurion pilots have been furloughed. Cargo Facts cannot confirm this rumor, but there was no answer when we called the Centurion office.