Kitty Hawk declares bankruptcy

Oct. 15--Dallas-based Kitty Hawk Inc. and subsidiaries, including Kitty Hawk Aircargo, which handles close to 90 percent of the freight shipped in and out of Fort Wayne International Airport, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday.

The company said in a statement it intends to operate all of its air and ground networks and conduct business as usual. Under Chapter 11, it also will:

--Pay critical vendors and owner-operator contractors

--Pay "post-petition" vendors, suppliers and other business partners for goods and services

--Continue to pay employees' wages and salaries, offering the same medical, dental, life insurance, disability and other benefits

--Continue its efforts to address financial challenges through a restructuring transaction

During the first five months of this year, the amount of freight it loaded at its corporate hub in Fort Wayne was down 23 percent, and the amount it unloads was down 34 percent.

In June, Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority Director Tory Richardson said the Kitty Hawk slowdown did not have a direct financial effect on the airport. The costs of operating Fort Wayne International are divided proportionately among air carriers using the airport, Richardson said.

Kitty Hawk has maintained its hub here since 1999; it employs about 300 workers in Fort Wayne. The company reported it had such a strong holiday season that it took on temporary workers here. Its 2006 fourth-quarter revenue rose 88 percent, compared with fourth-quarter 2005 revenue.

Earlier this year, the company attributed the jump in revenue to two new factors. First, its 2006 acquisition of Air Container Transport company increased its capacity during a boom season. Second, it won a contract from the U.S. Postal Service to help ship holiday mail.

Despite the sharp slump in freight traffic, Chief Financial Officer James Kupferschmid told The News-Sentinel in June the company had no plays to reduce the size of its workforce in Fort Wayne.

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