Bondholders at EA Partners II, a Netherlands-based special purpose vehicle belonging to Etihad Aviation Group, have filed a winding-up petition against Air Seychelles (HM, Mahé), a bond market filing has revealed.

A committee of creditors at the Etihad Airways (EY, Abu Dhabi Int'l) parent company’s SPV continues to insist that the state-owned Seychellois carrier repay a debt of USD71.5 million in full, but Air Seychelles said in May that it could pay no more than USD20 million of the sum, citing insolvency or liquidation proceedings as the only alternatives.

The noteholder committee said in the disclosure, filed on August 25, that two months previously it had instructed the notes’ security trustee “to file and serve a petition for the winding-up of Air Seychelles in respect of all amounts outstanding under the facility agreement dated 26 May 2016 and made between Air Seychelles as borrower [...] together with an affidavit in support of such winding-up petition.”

Subsequently, on August 19, a lawyer acting on behalf of the security trustee had filed the petition against Air Seychelles, and on August 24 “the winding-up petition was served on, and acknowledged by, Air Seychelles.”

Air Seychelles declined to comment on the matter to ch-aviation.

The move is the bondholders’ latest legal move to recover USD1.2 billion owed by airlines that Etihad Aviation Group partially owned when loans were provided to them as bonds in 2015 and 2016. A few days ago, the creditors revealed that Air Serbia had completed the debt repayments but that Air Seychelles, Alitalia, and Air Berlin still had amounts outstanding.

The bondholders also said in their August 25 filing that the noteholder committee had moved to declare that the loan and accrued interest owed by Air Berlin’s administrators “are immediately due and payable,” a message communicated in “a notice of default and acceleration notice” sent on July 19.

The creditors remain open, they told Reuters on August 25, to working to resolve the Air Seychelles issue with the Seychellois government - the airline’s only shareholder since it acquired Etihad Airways’ 40% stake earlier this year. But there has been no “substantive engagement nor any sense of urgency” from Air Seychelles or the government, they added, hence the winding-up petition.

The government said on August 26 that President Wavel Ramkalawan and the relevant government ministers would meet Air Seychelles’ board of directors to discuss the matter, the Seychelles News Agency reported. The airline is due to appear before the country’s Supreme Court on September 6. A lawyer for the petitioner who did not want to be named said that his clients “only want to recuperate the investment they have made in the airline.”

Editorial Comment: Added final para on reaction in Seychelles - 27.08.2021 - 07:35 UTC