Denmark’s Great Dane Airlines Files For Bankruptcy

After only two years, the Aalborg-based seasonal charter specialist Great Dane Airlines has been forced to call it quits. The carrier, owned to 90% by a Danish billionaire, never really got a fair chance due to the current crisis. Monday’s news has left over 100 passengers stranded at an airport in the south of Denmark.

Great Dane E190
Danish Embraer operator Great Dane has filed for bankruptcy, stranding passengers on their way to Italy. Photo: Riik@mctr via Wikimedia Commons

The small Danish Embraer operator Great Dane Airlines filed for bankruptcy earlier today, ceasing all flight operations and leaving travelers stranded at Billund Airport in the region of Southern Denmark. The 118 passengers were on their way to Northern Italy with a company called Bravo Tours. However, the travel operator promised to send them on their way soon with another plane.

However, for Great Dane Airlines, calling in another aircraft will not solve the carrier’s woes. The reason for a reportedly otherwise appreciated airline to file for insolvency? It should come as no surprise that the immense pressure of the unprecedented circumstances over the last year and a half caused Great Dane to fold.

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First flights summer 2019

Unfortunately, it was not a very long run for Denmark’s Great Dane. The airline only commenced operations in June 2019. The very first flight was a tour-company chartered service from Aalborg to Rhodes, Greece, taking off on June 14th. Meanwhile, the first scheduled service left for Dublin, Ireland, one week later, on June 21st. The airline also operated scheduled routes to Nice and Edinburgh.

Great Dane E190
Great Dane airline only stayed in business for a little over two years, most of it marred by the pandemic and travel restrictions. Photo: Rob Hodgkins via Flickr

Suspicious co-founder

Great Dane was initially co-owned by current CEO Thomas Hugo Møller, who previously held various managerial roles at Aalborg airport, and his partner Huy Duc Nguyen. Meanwhile, it appeared that the latter had heavily embellished his CV as well as LinkedIn profile, claiming to have held positions he never had. As the misrepresentation came to light, Mr Nguyen withdrew from the company.

Shortly thereafter, Danish billionaire Eigild Bødker Christensen invested in the airline, acquiring 90% through his company SEBC II ApS. According to Aviation Savvy, at the time of the investment in March 2019, the businessman was very happy to be a part of the project.

“It is an exciting project that helps to develop Northern Jutland for the benefit of both business and tourism, which I am very pleased to contribute to,” Mr Christensen said. The billionaire also owns a company called Iconic Cars, which sells and leases everything from a Ferrari Monsa to a Rolls-Royce Corniche.

Denmark’s Great Dane Airlines Files For Bankruptcy
The airline’s three aircraft were previously operated by British regional carrier Flybe. Photo: RHL Images via Wikimedia Commons

Planes from Flybe and Stobart Air

It is uncertain what will become of the carrier’s three Embraer E195 regional jets, currently based at the operator’s home airport of Aalborg in the North Jutland region. The aircraft are all leased from a company called Propius. Based in Ireland, the company took over the planes from German lessor GOAL in 2017.

At 13 years of age, the aircraft have previously flown for Flybe and Stobart Air (not particularly lucky charms, perhaps). They were also on loan from Great Dane to Vietnamese leisure specialist Bamboo Airways between September 2020 and April this year. 

How many could more small European airlines fold as a result of the pandemic? Are most out of the woods now, or will we see more like Great Dane? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.