Sky Palace Airways (Tampa Int'l) has clarified to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) that it will not be able to launch operations until June 2020, with the start-up needing to take "extra steps" due to recent "changes in the FAA certification procedure." It adds that dates for the delivery of its initial fleet of three B777-200(ER)s, "still under negotiation with Boeing", may also impact on this revised start-up schedule.

This new information on Sky Palace's intended launch date comes as a result of the DOT requesting further information from the carrier at the end of last month, which it answered within the permitted 30-day deadline. The airline's management informed the DOT that "the delay in start-up is expected to have very minimal impact on the carrier's projected expenses and operating results."

Within the airline's letter to the Air Carrier Fitness Division of the DOT, Sky Palace also clarified that it had 15 additional stockholders who were not identified in the carrier's initial application as they hold less than the 10% minimum specified in financial fitness legislation. It was also revealed that Kiran Patel, one of the carrier's largest shareholders, has not paid his initial USD5 million capital contribution - which will make him the second-biggest shareholder with a 31.75% stake. He remains committed to the project as a board director and intends to make his investment once Sky Palace is ready to acquire its aircraft.

It was also confirmed that Vijay Patel, previously named as a director of the airline, no longer retains any post at Sky Palace.

Two of the carrier's aircraft are currently stored at Victorville in California, and one at Goodyear in Arizona. Once acquired by Sky Palace, the aircraft will undergo C-checks, with the first B777-200(ER) returning to the air for proving runs shortly after. The business plan remains unchanged for its first two aircraft, expected to cost USD11.5 million each (net, and post-conversion), which are intended for ACMI operations (wet-lease) to other airlines.

The airline also explained that the third aircraft would be integrating into the fleet, in the eighth month of operation, regardless of the start date. This aircraft will be available for full charter flights rather than wet-lease.