By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Woes continue to mount at Evergreen

It has been facing a steady stream of lawsuits from vendors alleging failure to make payment for goods and services. It has also been hit with actions alleging failure to meet payroll and pension obligations, and with a power cutoff at one point for failure to pay its light bill.

Meanwhile, records show it has lost registration to fly on 11 of its fleet of Boeing cargo jets since 2010, either through expiration or cancellation.

In the latest development, an Arizona air base the company sold two years ago is seeking authorization to foreclose on two Evergreen Airlines Boeing 747s and sell them at public auction to cover un-met maintenance and storage obligations.

Located at the Pinal Air Park in rugged and remote south-central Arizona, the Marana Air Base originally served as an Army Air Corps field, then as a base of operations for the Central Intelligence Agency, during the War in Vietnam. After the war, it was later taken over by Pinal County, which began leasing it to Evergreen in 1975.

For the next three decades, Evergreen operated it as the Evergreen Maintenance Center. Taking advantage of the hot, dry and table-flat terrain, the company used it for the maintenance, repair and storage of commercial aircraft.

Evergreen sold the base to Relativity Capital, a private equity investment firm, in 2011. Relativity, which describes itself as “the world’s largest commercial aircraft MRO and storage facility,” re-named it Marana Aerospace Solutions.

Late last month, Marana Aerospace Solutions published a pair of public notices in the local paper, the Casa Grande Dispatch, announcing plans to auction two Evergreen 747 transport planes. The auction, aimed at covering expenses incurred for “labor, materials, supplies and storage,” is slated for 10 a.m. July 23.

On the sheriff’s sale auction block are a Boeing 747-100F, proposed for sale to cover a debt of $34,365, and a Boeing 747-200FM, proposed for sale to cover a debt of $1.1 million.

The actions come against a continuing backdrop of employee complaints about late paychecks.

One spouse of a management employee said paychecks have been late for the past 10 months. On two occasions, the spouse said, the company let the paychecks through under automatic deposit system, then pulled the money back later the same day, triggering overdraft charges the company refused to cover.

Some employees have filed complaints with the state Employment Division, but that does not seem to have had a material effect. “It’s so hard to live like this,” the spouse said.

According to the spouse, the company is having a hard time keeping planes flying because unpaid vendors have cut off the flow of parts and labor. “Companies they order from won’t help them because they’re so far in debt,” the spouse said.

In November 2012, a San Diego man who worked for Evergreen Helicopters in Afghanistan, prior to its sale to Erickson Air-Crane for $250 million, sued the company on allegations it took safety shortcuts endangering employees. The company reached an out-of-court settlement with him in June.

In other developments last month:

n The helicopter division’s new Portland-based owner won extension of two major contracts for provision of helicopter services to the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

n Evegreen came under court order to meet $744,651 in past-due pension obligations to its pilots association.


E.J. Farrar

Why don't they just park the old 747s in front of the air museum? There's still plenty of room there.

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