The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has revoked the operating authority of Elite Airways (MNU, Portland International Jetport) after declining to extend any further waivers. The agency cites dormancy as the reason for its decision. However, Elite told ch-aviation that it is now in the process of re-filing with the DOT for economic authority.

As ch-aviation recently reported, Elite Airways ceased operations in July 2022 after weeks of operational difficulties. The airline also confirmed that it faced financial difficulties and needed funding for day-to-day expenses such as payroll, accounts receivables, and leases.

Section 204.7 of the DOT's rules states that a carrier's operating authority automatically ends if it ceases flying. The same rules require the airline to file a notice to resume operations, accompanied by the necessary supporting paperwork, within one year of ceasing operations or face permanent cancellation of its operating authority for reasons of dormancy.

In June 2023, Elite sought a 30-day waiver on the 12-month dormancy deadline, which would come into effect from July 23. Noting that it usually grants waivers if the applicant can show good cause, the DOT granted Elite its application. However, the agency said if any further waivers were to be considered, Elite must file a statement of its intent to resume flying and demonstrate its fitness, or alternatively show why there is good cause for another waiver.

"Good cause" means the applicant can show that it remains capable of conducting business, retains assets such as aircraft, and is making demonstrable progress towards resuming flight operations.

The ch-aviation fleets module reveals Elite now retains two aircraft - a CRJ200ER and a CRJ700 Srs 701ER. Before ceasing flights, a larger Bombardier Aerospace fleet operated along the east coast of the US, including between Portland International Jetport - Vero Beach Municipal; New York Newark - Portland; St. Augustine - Newark; and West Chester - Newark.

On August 23, Elite filed a second 30-day waiver request. While the airline did supply some of the fitness information required by its DOT's rules, it did not provide updated financial or compliance information, both of which the agency needs to determine an applicant's ongoing fitness, the department said. However, Elite did say it had signed a letter of intent with a prospective purchaser and claimed it was confident that when the sale concluded it would have sufficient funds to pay its creditors and show it was financially and operationally capable of conducting business. On September 22, Elite told the DOT that the sale had yet to finalise.

"The Department has thoroughly reviewed Elite's request for a waiver and extension of time and concluded that Elite has not shown good cause for further waivers and extensions of the dormancy provisions of s.204.7," the DOT's September 29 decision reads. "In showing good cause, the Department expects applicants to demonstrate that they remain fit, retain the assets necessary to conduct air transportation, and that they are making progress towards a resumption of operations. Elite has made none of the required showings to demonstrate good cause."

"A potential buyer of the company is not considered good cause warranting further waivers and extensions from the provisions of dormancy," the decision noted. "The Department has no assurance that such a sale will conclude or that such a sale would enable an imminent resumption of service."

In response to a request for comment from ch-aviation, Elite Airways said that it is currently "in the process of re-filing with DOT for Economic Authority."