Lithuania's FlyLAL suspends operations

"VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Lithuania's troubled FlyLAL airline said Saturday it has suspended its operations after a buyout deal by Swiss investment firm SCH Swiss Capital Holdings failed.

Airline officials said it terminated a preliminary agreement with the Swiss company after it failed to pay $1 million (euro756,000) that would have cleared FlyLAL's debts and potentially saved it from bankruptcy.

Company Chief Executive Vytautas Kaikaris said the suspension was one of the few options left to try to save his company.

"We believe that the decision to suspend the operations is the most appropriate at this moment. We are doing this trying to stem further losses and prevent further deterioration in creditors' situation," Kaikaris said in a statement.

The Swiss company, which previously announced it would restructure and modernize the airline, was not immediately available for comment.

Since it was privatized in 2005, FlyLAL has struggled with large debts, primarily to Vilnius International Airport, where it is based. Carrier's debts now total some 90 million litas ($26 million).

The suspension left many passengers stranded and seeking either reimbursement or alternative routes.

Some 30,000 FlyLAL tickets had been sold and were still valid before Saturday's announcement."

"South African Airways Vacations is offering U.S. travelers a cheap vacation package to South Africa.

The package starts at $1,799 and includes airfare from New York or Washington to Johannesburg and Cape Town, four nights stay and breakfast at the Commodore Hotel in Cape Town, and a full-day Cape Peninsula and Table Mountain tour.

The South African Airways vacation also includes a half-day tour and wine tasting session at the Wineland Region in Cape Town, dinner and entertainment at the Gold of Africa Museum, two nights stay and breakfast and dinners at the Bakubung Bush Lodge in Pilanesburg National Park and two game drives to view Africa's Big Five.

The price of $1,799 is based on double occupancy and does not include taxes and surcharges.

Packages must be booked online with South African Airways Jan. 31 and travel must take place between February and May.

"We're pleased at the opportunity to offer this nine-day, air-inclusive vacation at this unheard-of price, fully $200 lower than our least expensive luxury package," said Lucille Sive, President of South African Airways Vacations.

"We understand the need to save, but we also understand the need to live and enjoy life, which is why we strive to offer luxury packages at low rates that travelers would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere." "


Shrish Pandey


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