- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2002

Hooters Air Inc. came one step closer yesterday to getting off the ground.
Hooters of America Inc. Chairman Robert H. Brooks will make an offer for Vanguard Airlines Inc. next week.
"We probably will have an offer on the ninth or 10th," Vanguard Airlines attorney Daniel Flanigan said yesterday at a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Missouri. "The good news is it appears something will happen."
Mr. Brooks said two weeks ago that his vision for Hooters Air includes using the airline to promote the 310 Hooters restaurants and using the restaurants to promote a new airline. That would include having Hooters waitresses on Hooters Air flights, he said.
"We think there are some [cross-branding opportunities]. Will there be Hooters girls on flights? Probably, but not as flight attendants," Mr. Brooks said.
Mr. Brooks, who has set up Hooters Air Inc. to examine Vanguard's records and determine whether he wants to buy the bankrupt airline, could buy all the assets or invest in the company, based in Kansas City, Mo. That would leave the door open for other investors.
Vanguard Chief Executive Scott Dickson said after the hearing that investors other than Mr. Brooks were interested in the low-cost carrier, but he didn't name them.
Mr. Brooks is the only person who has made his interest in the airline public.
In the meantime, Mr. Brooks will continue funding Vanguard. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jerry W. Venters yesterday approved a request by Vanguard to allow Hooters Air to loan the airline $57,500 a week through the week of Sept. 16.
The judge approved a series of $50,000 loans from Hooters Air to Vanguard on Aug. 15.
Vanguard said employees are heartened by Mr. Brooks' interest.
"We feel very positive about the process. But we'll see what happens when we have something on paper," Vanguard spokeswoman Elizabeth Cattell said.
The bankruptcy court judge, the airline's creditors and the company's board of directors all would have to approve Mr. Brooks' offer before he could take over Vanguard.
Vanguard filed for Chapter 11 protection in bankruptcy July 30, listing $39.7 million in assets and $95.9 million in debts.
The company ceased operating and laid off more than 1,100 workers. Only 29 employees remain.


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