The coronavirus has disrupted Awesome Flight’s charter helicopter service at Westchester County Airport.
Awesome Flight LLC and its owner-pilot Keith Vitolo of Mamaroneck filed Chapter 11 petitions Dec. 2 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, White Plains.
Awesome Flights declared $270,000 in assets – the estimated value of its 2013 Robinson R66 helicopter – and $1,015,440 in liabilities. Vitolo declared nearly $110,000 in assets and $686,185 in liabilities.
Vitolo has been unable to conduct traditional operations since March 16, he states in an affidavit, “when demand for NY Metro area helicopter charter was temporarily reduced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Vitolo got into the charter business after years of working in aircraft financing, according to a 2008 New York Times article, when he saw an opportunity to serve fliers annoyed by stressful commercial airline flights.
Awesome Flight has been operating since 2003, offering 130 mph, beeline flights to customers for whom speed and avoidance of on-the-ground traffic jams are worth more than the cost of the service.
Business executives catching an international flight at Kennedy International Airport, for instance, pay $1,272 for an airport shuttle from the Wall Street heliport.
Vitolo transports vacationers to the Hamptons, ferries gamblers to casinos, conducts fall foliage tours, offers aerial photography and hosts mile high engagements.
The business booked nearly $700,000 last year, according to a bankruptcy record, and Vitolo made $106,000 in salary. But revenues are down 70%, to $210,000, so far this year, and his salary has been cut nearly in half, to $56,280.
Awesome owes M&T Bank of Buffalo $382,120 on a loan Vitolo personally guaranteed. It owes $300,000 to Baroda Ventures, a Beverly Hills, California, venture capital firm, and has been paying interest with in-kind flights.
The company is also carrying a $29,780 coronavirus Paycheck Protection Program loan and a $15,200 Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
Vitolo owes $200,150 to 1st Constitution Bank of Cranbury, New Jersey, on a loan he guaranteed.
He also owns Amazing Flights LLC, a White Plains company that leases the helicopter to Awesome Flights for $5,000 a month. Amazing Flights has not filed for bankruptcy.
Vitolo has listed the Robinson R66 for $299,999 on Controller, an online aircraft sales site.
But his goal, according to bankruptcy affidavits, is to reorganize and “continue to operate my businesses.”
White Plains bankruptcy attorney Anne Penachio represents Awesome and Vitolo.
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