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SkyGreece majority owner apologizes for grounding, stranding passengers

File photo of a SkyGreece plane.

The majority owner of SkyGreece Airlines says he’s sorry for the airline’s grounding that has stranded about 1,000 passengers.

“It’s very, very, very bad but it’s beyond my control,” Ken Stathakis said in a telephone interview from Toronto.

“I cannot help it, I couldn’t do anything. I’m very, very sorry.”

Stathakis, who also owns Toronto area restaurant The Octagon, said company lawyers are preparing to make a statement Monday afternoon, but that it won’t involve a filing for creditor protection.

SkyGreece cancelled all of its flights last week, saying it was due to technical issues and financial setbacks resulting from the Greek economic crisis, but didn’t elaborate. The airline called the move a temporary situation and said its operations were expected to resume soon.

Stranded passengers may have to wait three weeks to get answers about the company and the ownership status of its only aircraft — a Boeing 767 that is parked at Pearson International Airport in Mississauga.

Passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs has called for the Canadian Transportation Agency to order the airline to rebook its stranded passengers on other airlines within 24 hours and put up $8.7 million of security to cover passenger claims.

The agency has given the airline until 5 p.m. ET Monday to respond to a request from Lukacs for an expedited review of his complaint.

Stathakis said lawyers are handling the complaint. However, if SkyGreece fails to respond by Monday or the agency orders an expedited process, the company will have to respond to Lukacs’ complaint by Wednesday afternoon.

He’s also asking them to answer a series of questions about its ownership structure, finances, assets, disposal of assets and number of stranded passengers.

He wants to ensure that no money was inappropriately taken out of the company through the payment of dividends or transfer of assets.

“What I want to make sure is that if there is any money for anybody involved in this, that money goes to passengers,” he said from Halifax.

The airline was founded in 2012 and started operations in 2014 with one plane. A 2013 report from airline publication Flight Global said SkyGreece entered into a lease-purchase arrangement through a U.S. bank on behalf of an American investor.