Aviation News

January 2, 2014

UPDATE x2: Will They Stay or Will They Go? The Saga of Evergreen International Airlines

UPDATE 1/2/14: On January 1st, Evergreen filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The petition is expected to lead to the liquidation of the company. It follows an involuntary petition filed by the airline’s creditors by about 2 weeks.

UPDATE: It is confirmed that Evergreen Airlines did shut down on November 30, 2013. We would like to express our condolences to their staff.

FROM THE EDITOR: Though some of management from Evergreen seem to be denying it, we contacted them directly and received confirmation from a member of their team that they have effectively shut down operations.

It’s no secret that the last few years haven’t been easy for Evergreen International Airlines. The global financial crisis coupled with the loss of major military and industrial contracts hit the Oregon-based cargo carrier hard. In March of this year, parent company Evergreen International Aviation sold its helicopter operations to fellow Oregon operator Erickson Air-Crane, Inc. That deal was valued at a quarter billion dollars and was intended to provide Evergreen with the cash needed to maintain operations. Yet the money problems have continued for the airline; its revolutionary 747-based Supertanker — after receiving approval to join the airborne firefighting fleet earlier this year — currently sits in the desert awaiting a major maintenance check. Another 747 formerly belonging to Korean Air currently sits at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in need of a new paint job. Two additional Korean aircraft were never delivered earlier this year after Evergreen couldn’t take on the debt load. In addition to its financial woes, Evergreen faces legal challenges as well. Evergreen has been under investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice over its relationship with the non-profit Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum across Highway 18 from Evergreen Aviation’s corporate headquarters at the McMinnville Airport.

The Evergreen 747 Supertanker literally "bites the dust" at Rammstein Air Base in Germany. Photo by Phil Derner Jr.

The Evergreen 747 Supertanker literally “bites the dust” at Rammstein Air Base in Germany. Photo by Phil Derner, Jr.

Late in the evening of November 7, the Yamhill Valley (Ore.) News-Register reported that Evergreen had sent all of its employees a voicemail announcing the airline would be shutting down its air cargo operations at the end of that month. If so, this move would mark the cessation of the bulk of Evergreen’s current operations. However, the agricultural and ground services operations were reported to continue, at least for now. The status of Evergreen’s Supertanker aerial firefighting program is unknown at this time. At the close of business Friday, Evergreen International Aviation issued a statement denying the rumored closing of the air cargo operation. While acknowledging the company’s dire financial situation, CEO Delford M. Smith insisted that efforts were focused on restructuring and not on liquidation.

This public statement was directly and almost immediately contradicted by an internal company memo required under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) and obtained by the Portland Business Journal. The memo announced the layoffs of 131 employees over the final three weeks of November. Those 131 employees are believed to be the entire workforce currently employed by Evergreen. According to the memo, layoffs of all employees began on Thursday, November 7th and will continue through November 30th. A small number of employees necessary for the completion of the shutdown will work into the month of December and the date of the shutdown itself may also be pushed into December. In addition to employees, the memo was also filed with the State of Oregon and others as required by a law which mandates that 60 days notice be given for layoffs of this magnitude, yet in this case fewer than 30 were given.

Ben Granucci, Contributing Editor, is an aviation enthusiast and planespotter based in New York City. Growing up in Connecticut, he has had his eyes toward the sky for as long as he can remember. He can be reached on Twitter at @BLGranucci or through his blog at Landing-Lights.com

About the Author

Ben Granucci
Ben Granucci, Senior Editor, is an aviation enthusiast and plane spotter based in New York City. Growing up in Connecticut, he has had his eyes toward the sky for as long as he can remember. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.



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  • John

    WARN requires 60 days notice, but often the WARN notice and termination notice are given at the same time, with the employee being paid standard hours but not working for the warning period.

    Every time I’ve been through a WARN layoff, I was given the WARN notice and walked out the same day, and then paid for the next 60 days at normal rate.

    • tahi

      I am just mad because we got a phone call that same night. I just hope we get paid for the 2 weeks before they shut down. ..