Turkish low-cost carrier Onur Air has been declared bankrupt following an unusual series of events. 

A former pilot filed a case against the company due to unpaid wages – such legal proceedings against Onur Air resulted in the carrier being declared bankrupt this week. 

The lawsuit 

Onur Air pilot Turgut Emre Topçu filed a lawsuit against Onur Air last year, citing unpaid wages. Proceedings have since ended in a bankruptcy filing. The Turkish airline contested the suit and will fight the bankruptcy proceedings. 

Turgut Emre Topçu issued a claim of 105,000 Turkish liras ($7,175) in unpaid wages and legal costs. The verdict was reached in favour of the Onus Air pilot, but the airline could not meet the demands. This caused the lawyers representing Topçu to file an insolvency application, which in turn led to Onur Air initiating bankruptcy proceedings. 

Onur Air did initially reject commencing bankruptcy proceedings with the argument that Topçu was not a creditor of the company. This was later discarded following expert opinion. 

Instead, Onur Air will continue to contest the ruling and has opted to apply for the bankruptcy to be lifted. 

Unpaid employees 

Thanks to financial difficulties, Onur Air has approximately 1,600 employees who have not received the full pay they are entitled to. A majority of these employees unionised in November and were awarded a collective bargaining agreement by Turkish authorities earlier this year. 

A senior figure at Onur Air spoke on the airline’s financial issues and troubles paying employees:

“We are working hard to solve the problem and we are close to the result. About 1,600 of our employees are still paid insurance premiums. We hope to pay all receivables of our employees in a lump sum.” 

The airline is struggling significantly with debt, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. It is likely employees will continue to face difficulties receiving their full salaries. 

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