Nearly The End of July

More unease about war plans – Iraq attack plans alarm top military [Guardian]. It’s all made me think how little I really understand a) the politics of the middle east and b) the culture of the middle east. Then again, everyday I realise how little I know about the culture and politics of my own country.

In random wanderings, these caught my eye on Metafilter today: America’s CEOs aren’t greedy enough [] and Vanguard Airlines intends to file for protection under Chapter 11. Imagine having your termination notice posted on a web site!

Information for Vanguard Employees

Scott Dickson
Chairman, CEO and President
July 30, 2002

Dear Vanguard Family:

Today is a sad day. At 1 a.m. this morning, Vanguard Airlines suspended operations. Absent receipt of critical funding, we intend to soon file for Chapter 11 protection in the federal bankruptcy court for the western district of Missouri. This very difficult decision was made only after every effort was made to obtain the financing necessary to continue operations. We simply came up dry and ran out of time. The reasons for the cessation of operations and need to file are more particularly set forth in our press release. It is likely that this is a permanent shutdown.

With very limited exceptions, all Vanguard employees have their employment terminated as of 1 a.m. this morning. No bumping rights exist. A limited group of employees who are being contacted individually will have their employment continued for a brief period of time as we seek to obtain financing. Such employees are hired only on a day-to-day basis and may be terminated on notice. The possibility of shutdown has been communicated, and known, for a long time. We were unable to provide specific notice of the actual shutdown earlier, because we have had hope of obtaining financing, and have held discussions with potential lenders, until the very last minute. Any notice provided prior to today would have removed any chance of obtaining financing. Several times in the last year we have been on the verge of shutdown and obtained financing at the last possible moment. This situation was no different, and it was definitely worth our while to try to obtain financing until the last possible moment.

Employees are required to return any airport-issued badges and keys and are requested to return this Thursday or Friday to retrieve their personal belongings. Except in the case of emergency need, you will not be allowed admittance to Vanguard facilities today (Tuesday, July 30th). I regret this inconvenience but the fundamental purpose of Chapter 11 is to provide an orderly process and today all our efforts must be focused on obtaining additional capital to allow the Company to recommence operations. If you have an immediate emergency need for a personal item, please advise a security guard and we may be able to retrieve it for you.

Your management team and I continue to believe that Vanguard held an excellent industry position and had demonstrated the viability of the business strategy. However, the general skepticism of investors towards airlines since September 11, coupled with Vanguard’s history of losses, prevented us from obtaining significant new capital. In short, we were doing the right things but past history and timing vis-à-vis September 11th were against us.

Although we will attempt to reorganize in bankruptcy and fly again, I cannot provide you any assurance of this. I am certain you will be able to follow the course of our reorganization efforts in the Kansas City newspapers.

Employee inquiries should be sent by email to You may also contact the Company’s General Counsel, Bob Rowen, by phone at 816-243-2995. However, please understand that the Bankruptcy Court will allow the hiring of only a tiny staff to handle the liquidation and that staff will be extremely busy. The staff may have a limited ability to return emails and may not have time to handle phone inquiries.

If you believe Vanguard may not have your current address on file, please leave your current address and contact information with Human Resources, by hand delivery, letter and/or email to

During the last year, you worked extremely hard to make Vanguard a success. Our passengers demonstrated their confidence in the airline by purchasing tickets for future transportation. Our shareholders provided as much financial support as they were able given economic conditions over the last 10 months. Many of our suppliers also provided substantial financial concessions, while their payables increased. The shutdown of Vanguard is a tragedy for many. I am deeply sorry that it had to happen.

You have a lot about which to be proud. Despite substantial adversity, we operated a safe airline for over seven years. We brought affordable transportation to Kansas City and the Midwest. You showed tremendous spirit, hard work and determination.

A list of FAQs is being provided separately.

I appreciate the personal friendships I enjoyed with many of you during the last year. I wish you the best in your future career. You will be in our prayers.

Very truly yours,

Scott Dickson

On this day…