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Fate of Evergreen Airlines remains uncertain

After scheduled Nov. 30 closure, operations were still ongoing, pilots meeting doesnt result in answers


The fate of Evergreen International Airlines remains undetermined.

Business for EIA was scheduled to end Nov. 30, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification — a federal requirement of companies laying off more than 100 employees — filed by the company. But after a contradictory statement released by CEO Del Smith Nov. 8, the future of the company was unclear. by: GARY ALLEN - Planes grounded - Evergreen International Aviation, located in McMinnville, has been in the spotlight after announcing they were closing operations, and then denying the Nov. 30 closure a day later. After no further word from the airline, its future is unclear.

A few days into December, operations were still ongoing at the McMinnville-based airline.

Mike Hines, chairman of parent company Evergreen International Aviation Inc., said Dec. 2 that the airline was still doing business, as reported by the Oregonian.

“We’re still looking at all of the avenues,” Hines said.

The Oregonian also reported that when asked if managers hope to save the company, Hines replied, “We want to do what’s best for the company, yes.”

However, the next day, the Oregonian reported that EIA had flown its last military flight Nov. 29 and that all aircraft had been parked. This was according to a memo sent to Air Line Pilots Association members Dec. 2. When asked for a copy of said memo, the ALPA said they said they do not wish to share the letter, as it was intended for EIA crewmembers only.

The ALPA memo, signed by James B. Touchette, chairman of ALPA Local 118, said a meeting was slated for Dec. 3 with lienholders and Evergreen managers

But on Dec. 6, they released a statement addressing the airline’s future.

“The airline’s management team had plans to meet with lienholders on December 3 to determine the company’s future, but a decision on the fate of the airline is still unknown,” the statement read.

For now, the union’s main concern is crewmember’s paychecks. The last paychecks received Dec. 5 did not include vacation payouts, which the ALPA said violates an agreement made by EIA management.

“We are doing our best under these circumstances that we possibly can to get the crewmembers all of the money owed to them by the last payroll,” Touchette said. “It is what the loyal members who met retirement requirements or resigned according to the contract guidelines and flew the flights management requested them to fly after announcing operations would cease deserve.”

Repeated attempts to officials to clarify the current standing of EIA went unreturned.

Attempts to learn the results of the meeting also were unsuccessful.

Amid uncertainty about the fate of the company, lawsuits continued to be filed, with ones for $5.4 million and $2.1 million announced recently by creditors. Other lawsuits have been filed by employees, shareholders, suppliers and insurance companies.

In March, the company sold Evergreen Helicopters to Erickson Air-Crane Inc. for $250 million. At the time, Smith said Evergreen would use the proceeds to pay off debts and expand the airline.

“The sale of EHI provides us with needed capital to repay existing debt and gives us the liquidity to support our airline and remaining businesses,” he said in a press release. However, debts including almost $1.5 million to unpaid pilot pension plans, remain unpaid.

Beginning in June, there have also been at least four sales by Smith or Evergreen Agricultural Enterprises, of farmland. These sales amount to more than $11 million in revenue. Although acreage figures were not available for all purchases, two were for 500 and 540 acres, according to Yamhill County records.

Evergreen Agricultural Enterprises has 8,000 acres of agricultural holdings in the mid-Willamette Valley, mostly in Yamhill County, according to its website. These holdings supply Evergreen with an $84.1 million line of credit, according to county records.

An Oregon Department of Justice investigation, opened in March, is also still ongoing examining the relationship between Evergreen’s for-profit and nonprofit entities, and the transferal of money between them.



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