Former Co-Owner Says Flight Contract Illegally Terminated
You almost need a program to follow
Seems Sacramento (CA)-based charter carrier Sky King is suing
the NBA Kings. The airline, owned by former basketball team
co-owner Greg Lukenbill, wants $8.2 million because the Kings --
the basketball team, that is -- wrongfully terminated its agreement
to use Sky King -- the airline, not the team -- to fly the players
from game to game.
This whole mess started back in 1985, when Lukenbill, a
Sacramento-area developer, helped bring the basketball team to
town. In 1990, he started the airline Sky King to fly the team from
city to city. But in 2000, the basketball team stopped flying Sky
King and started using a charter set up by the NBA. The charter
operation charges teams based on the total number of players from
all teams it flies. In the season just ending, that charter
contract was awarded to Pace Airlines of Winston-Salem (NC).
"Obviously there is a disagreement," said team attorney David
Price, in an interview with the Sacramento Business Journal. Price
said he'd seen only a draft of the suit. "The team wouldn't have
terminated the contract several years ago if it didn't feel
strongly that there was a nonperformance by Sky King."
Lukenbill, who filed suit against the team May 27th, didn't have
a lot to say when a reporter called: "I don't want to know what the
subject is, I have no comment, thank you much."
Sky King and the Sacramento Kings
singed a contract in 1997 to fly the team around in a Boeing 737
for $1.2 million a year. The contract was extended in 1998 and was
supposed to run out at the end of this month, according to the
Sacramento Business Journal.
Then the team changed hands and the new owners told Lukenbill
they wanted a different aircraft. There were letters -- nasty
letters -- between new owner Geoff Petrie and Lukenbill. Sky King
told the basketball franchise a new plane would cost an extra
$400,000 a year. That's when Petrie started grumbling about safety,
saying, "as you can appreciate, the Kings are very concerned
because of the numerous technical or mechanical problems which the
plane experienced over the past NBA season."
The lawsuit doesn't list any of those problems.
But in October 1999, the Sacramento Business Journal reports
Petrie asked Lukenbill to have Sky King certified as a Part 121
operator to ensure safety and a high technical standard. He asked
Sky King to appoint a safety director in accordance with Part 121.
Lukenbill offered himself for the job. Petrie didn't like that. But
the FAA named Lukenbill anyway and, as safety director, he told
Petrie that he spent $6.5 million on beefing up safety
Sky King was awarded its Part 121 certificate by the FAA in
October, 2002. By that time, however, the team had found another
See ya in court.