The airline, which was due to start scheduled ski season flights on December 11th, said in a message posted on its Facebook page on Monday: “This morning our key financial backer walked away from the Powdair journey for personal reasons”.
As a result, the airline is faced with having to postpone the launch of its ski flights and refund those who have booked – unless it can find enough new investment to keep it going.
In a direct appeal to its customers, the airline asked them to invest their own money, saying it needed at least £3 million (3.9m francs) to operate this season and £1 million (1.3 million francs) by the end of this week.
“At this late stage, community ownership is realistically the only way we’ll be able to make Powdair operational this winter,” said the statement.
Chief financial officer Sean Pettit said the loss of the company’s main backer was “both unexpected and potentially disastrous for our airline, booked passengers and resort partners.”.
Ticket sales had “exceeded expectations”, he said, with 5,000 people having booked flights and 85 bought season passes.
“Powdair is ready to go, but we now desperately need investment. I'd personally like to hear from anyone interested in owning either a small or large part of our airline."
After announcing the news on Facebook some customers were sympathetic, but others criticized the company for its failure to find enough funding to operate.
“What a shambolic situation and a very inappropriate way to deliver such news,” said one.
The new flights into Sion were set to be a boon for British skiers looking to visit resorts in the Valais including Verbier, Zermatt and Crans-Montana and avoid the long journey from Geneva airport.