Slovakian low-cost air carrier SkyEurope (NE/ESK) cancelled all operations and went bankrupt on August 31st, 2009. It's been now 10 years since the last SkyEurope aircraft landed at one of Croatian airports.
SkyEurope was founded in 2001, and it started operations in February 2002. The main operational base was in Bratislava. The operarions started on short regional routes from Bratislava with 6 small Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia planes. In 2004, this company changed its business model into a low-cost air carrier and started operations with bigger planes. At the begining it operated 7 Boeing 737-500s and 9 Boeing 737-300s from second-hand sources. Between 2005 and 2007, the company ordered up to 32 brand new Boeing 737-700 planes through a few different contracts. Before the financial difficulties in 2008, they took over only 15 new Boeing 737-700s.
Regular flight operations from the main base in Bratislava were later expanded to new bases in Vienna, Budapest, Košice, Krakow, Prague and Warsaw. Salzburg, as the last planned base before the end of operations was unsuccesful. SkyEurope was flying to almost all main destinations around Europe, including Croatia. They flew from Vienna, Bratislava and Prague to Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar; from Krakow and Budapest to Dubrovnik and Split as well as the single route from Košice to Split. The only destination in Northern Adriatic was Trieste (airports Pula or Rijeka were omitted). However, the operations from Prague and Budapest to Trieste were operated only for a single summer season.
SkyEurope started having serious financial problems in 2008. First, the company was not able to take over the new planes they ordered. In 2009, more then half of the fleet was grounded because the company was unable to pay leasing rates. At the same time, they leased older planes from different air carriers to cover up their summer timetable. For example, there were Boeing 737-500s i 737-300s from Lithuanian air carrier Small Planet Airlines (S5/LLC), and McDonnell Douglas MD-82 planes leased from Croatian air carrier Dubrovnik Airline (2D/DBK). Summer timetable was ended on the last day of August 2009. All operations were cancelled and the company declared bankruptcy.
Photo © Avioradar - Jan Kotek (SPU)