‘Ridiculous’ demands made; plans for remaining assets unclear
Guam airport officials abruptly halted late last month the inspection of a Freedom Air Cessna 207 plane being eyed by Skydive Marianas for business in the CNMI—raising suspicion from parties involved of a “hidden agenda.”
Freedom Air listed $750,000 it owed the Guam International Airport Authority when it filed a bankruptcy petition in 2013, which was dismissed by a Guam court last year.
Parties in the botched inspection believe the Guam airport is looking to recover its losses—like when a car is abandoned with past dues in an auto shop and the mechanic collects what he can.
Depending on its condition, a Cessna 207 is estimated to sell around $110,000 to $160,000, it was learned.
When asked to comment on GIAA’s plans for Freedom Air’s assets, spokesperson Rolenda Faausamile said the only information she is able to share is: “Guam is following all necessary procedures in disposing of assets left in the hangar by Freedom Air.”
With Freedom Air’s approval, a Commonwealth Development Authority representative accompanied Skydive Marianas and a certified mechanic to the inspection on Feb. 26.
CDA is the lien holder of Freedom Air assets, parties involved said.
Asia Pacific, a third party on behalf of Freedom Air whose representatives could not step into Guam’s hangar because of their eviction, oversaw the inspection.
Parties involved said they arrived at the Guam hangar around 10:30am that morning after a 45-minute stay in Guam Customs.
Parties involved said they were questioned by the airport about the length of their pre-purchase inspection, expecting the inspection to be under an hour.
The parties had planned for a two- to three-hour inspection, it was gathered.
The inspection found that there was no battery in the plane, prompting the parties to leave the hangar around lunchtime to locate a battery and drain fuel for the testing of the plane’s engine.
When they returned around 2pm, airport marshals would not let them enter.
“Marshals just did not let us in,” Skydive Marianas general manager Oleg Tchernychenko said in an interview this week.
Tchernychenko said the GIAA representative during inspection did not know “squat about aircraft, about anything—and we had to ask everything.”
They discovered they needed a battery to start up avionics and fuel to start up engine, he said.
“We made some calls, and we went out to borrow what we needed. …And when we came [back], Guam airport said, ‘We didn’t know anything about your inspection, actually, we will not let you in at all,’” he said.
Saipan Tribune learned that it was GIAA airport manager Jean Arriola who had called CDA’s Oscar Camacho to call off the inspection.
Parties involved claimed GIAA’s reasons included possible “sabotage of the airplane,” despite the presence of a third party observer.
When sought for comment, Camacho said he could not comment on this story or Freedom Air assets in general.
Tchernychenko said he doesn’t know what was going on between CDA and GIAA over the assets. “It’s an unclear picture,” he said.
Tchernychenko said he learned from CDA that GIAA specified a list of demands to access the Freedom Air plane in it hangar.
“You have to have signed commercial operator license at Guam airport, you have to pledge to run security for all your representatives, you have to obtain insurance, $10 million coverage aircraft liability—this is just to walk in and touch the plane,” he said.
“And it was just ridiculous. They said, ‘If you will not follow our demands, we will not let you in.”
“Nothing is clear,” he added.
“Who should have insurance [for inspection]? Because CDA isn’t the operator, CDA is the lien holder[…]CDA is the creditor and now they have to assess Freedom Air assets. We have such feelings that it’s not legalities but underwater currents, which we do not see but we feel,” he said. “I believe many, many […] hidden agendas involved.”
Skydive Marianas has been attempting to start in the CNMI since 2013. They lack a plane. Tcherynychenko described their many efforts as “fly in the goo” so far, alluding to problems with the local airport authority here as well.