By Lori Kimbel
At 14-years-old Tim Sieber grabbed a wet towel from a bucket of water and swiped it across the metal exterior of an airplane. From that moment on he was hooked. Little did he know then that airplanes, airlines and airports would be almost as important to him as breathing.
For almost his entire adult life Sieber has been involved with airlines in one way or another. At the age of 22 he was the director of sales and services at Mall Airways in Albany, New York. He went on to Mohawk Airlines and was the Director of stations; he was a customer service agent at Delta Airlines and was the vice president of research and analysis at Aviation Systems Research Corporation in Colorado. He went back to New York where he was the vice president of marketing and planning for Northern Airlines and then became the vice president and general manager of Boyd Group International in Colorado.
He joined SeaPort Airlines in 2011 and has worked himself up from the vice president of strategy and corporate development, to vice president of commercial, to executive vice president.
His current role, as president of SeaPort Airlines, Inc., just might prove to be his most challenging role to date as the company navigates its way through the reorganizing process of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The company announced on February 5, 2016 that it has filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 reorganization in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Oregon. After much consideration, the Board of Directors of the Oregon-based airline has determined that reorganization is the best path forward for SeaPort Airlines, allowing the company to achieve long-term viability while maintaining its ability to provide air service to customers and communities. The announcement comes after the airline took a number of necessary steps to reduce its route network as a result of a national pilot shortage.
The company also announced that Rob McKinney has resigned as president and CEO.
“The difficult decision to file for bankruptcy protection was necessary to preserve the future of our airline. I am confident we will come out the other side of reorganization with a financially stronger airline in a better position to handle the challenges of the industry and provide the quality service our customers, employees and partners deserve,” said Sieber.
Under court supervision, SeaPort will propose a Plan of Reorganization that will allow the company to emerge a strong and viable airline positioned to meet the challenges not only of the pilot shortage, but of the highly competitive airline industry.
“Our customers are first and foremost our top priority as we work towards our goals of building a better, more sustainable airline. We’re moving forward, one flight at a time, by focusing on delivering on our core promise to each customer of getting them to their destination safely and on-time.” said Sieber.
“This is something I have wanted to do my entire life,” said Seiber. “We have this moment to get it right. A small airline can serve a small community better and we provide a great service, although lately we have just been ‘flying’ to communities. We have a tremendous opportunity to connect with them once again. I would like to see us get back up to the size we were, but I don’t ever want to say we ‘fly’ to these communities, I always want to be able to say we ‘serve’ these communities.”
Normal, day-to-day operations will not be interrupted by the filing. During the Chapter 11 process, SeaPort Airlines will continue to provide safe and reliable service without interruption to the destinations it currently serves. More specifically, SeaPort Airlines expects to continue to:
• Provide employee wages, healthcare coverage, PTO, and travel benefits without interruption;
• Pay vendors for goods and services received during the reorganization process;
• Operate a full schedule of flights;
• Honor existing tickets and reservations and provide refunds and exchanges per our contract of carriage; and
• Maintain interline agreements with Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines.
“We are a smaller company than we were six months ago. The bankruptcy is giving us a chance to pause, breath and refocus ourselves,” he said. “We have a good foundation, a good structure, a good business infrastructure, and we have tremendous spirit. Our core promise is to deliver you safely and on time to your destination…with your luggage. If we stay focused on this promise it will ultimately lead to our success.”