This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, July 31, 2002, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Did the government turn its back on Vanguard Airlines? The Kansas City-based company has now gone bust. One thousand workers have now gone without a job. And now, our next guest wants some answers. Joining us now, Scott Dickson, the CEO of Vanguard. Mr. Dickson, thanks for coming.
SCOTT DICKSON, CEO, VANGUARD AIRLINES (VNGD): My pleasure.
CAVUTO: Are you angry at the government?
DICKSON: Well, I'm certainly very quizzical. And I guess it would border on anger. We certainly don't understand why the government would take the action that they did. All we were asking for was a $7.5 million loan guarantee to ensure the viability of a very viable company going forward.
CAVUTO: Why didn't you get it?
DICKSON: Well, they replied only in very general terms. We do not really know other than they say they were concerned about our ability to repay the loan going forward.
CAVUTO: Why would they be afraid of that? Did you have anything in your past or recently that indicated you might not be able pay this money back?
DICKSON: Well, from what little we can glean, the government continues to be very concerned about Vanguard's first six years of existence. Now, this is an airline that's been around for seven and a half years. However, what they just do not seem to understand is that a year and a half ago, we totally reinvented this company. We changed the product, we put newer airplanes in, changed everything that we're offering with the customer, totally turned the corner. And last summer, leading up to September 11, we were making some money. Now, granted, we did not have a long time to prove the concept, but...
CAVUTO: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Now, you got money right after September 11, right? You got some loan guarantees. You got a couple of million bucks. Am I wrong on that?
DICKSON: Oh, yes. It was a grant, correct. All airlines shared that pool.
CAVUTO: OK. So, you got some of that. So, we tried get a comment, Mr. Dickson, from the Air Transportation Stabilization Board, I guess the folks who decide who gets what. They didn't come back to us with any comment. But one could wonder whether they thought you could be a viable concern going forward or whether you were a risky bet. It would appear to me that by not giving you the money, they probably thought you were a risky bet. Why would they think that?
DICKSON: Well, it really mystifies me. I do not know what drumbeat they are marching to. We are an airline that even since September 11, we have run counter-cyclical to the rest of the industry. Our revenue is up year over year, 40 percent. Our loan factors are up. We were setting all kinds of corporate records for passengers boarded and revenue flown. And we even had cash collateral available to back up the loan guarantee. So, we're scratching our heads too.
CAVUTO: Now, you are in bankruptcy now, right?
CAVUTO: Now, any hope of coming out of bankruptcy?
DICKSON: We hope so. There's no guarantees. We are talking to some parties. But the next week will be very telling.
CAVUTO: Not many industry analysts are very optimistic. Mike Boyd of the Boyd Group, an airline industry consulting firm, said draw a line around them, they are dead. What do you say?
DICKSON: Well, you know, there are comeback stories in this industry. And we have got a very solid story. This is not a failed airline in many senses.
CAVUTO: But how do you tell that to these passengers who are looking out now who were blanked out of flights, they're blanking off at you?
DICKSON: Well, of course they are upset, and they have every reason to be upset. And we fully understand that we are doing the best we can to try and find them alternatives. But I believe if we could restart the airline, clearly we would be able to honor our commitments, our tickets going forward.
CAVUTO: But people have long memories, don't they?
DICKSON: You know, it is amazing. People that I have discovered in this business are people who are actually much more forgiving than you think they would be.
CAVUTO: All right. Mr. Dickson, I wish you well. Thank you very much.
DICKSON: Thank you so much.
CAVUTO: Scott Dickson of Vanguard Airlines, struggling to stay afloat. We shall see.
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