Deprived of its captive air travel audience by electronic devices, the publisher of the SkyMall in-flight shopping catalog known for its selection of quirky merchandise has landed in bankruptcy.
On what Gizmodo called “a dark day for Lord of the Rings necklace collectors and elaborate pet furniture enthusiasts everywhere,” SkyMall LLC filed a Chapter 11 petition Thursday, listing as much as $50 million in liabilities and as much as $10 million in assets. The company had suspended its catalog and fired 47 employees from its call centers earlier this month.
“With the increased use of electronic devices on planes, fewer people browsed the SkyMall in-flight catalog,” CFO Scott Wiley said in court papers, adding that new technology and the cost of getting the magazine on planes “made the traditional in-flight SkyMall catalog increasingly unattractive to the airlines.”
Wiley named Amazon.com Inc. and EBay Inc. as among SkyMall competitors with greater resources and more customers.
Bloomberg noted that more carriers are offering in-flight Internet access and regulators have let passengers use smartphones and tablets during take-offs and landings, depriving SkyMall of its captive audience.
“Now, even if you’re not connected, you can at least have your phone in front of you for the entire flight,” Brett Snyder, an aviation consultant and founder of CrankyFlier.com, told Bloomberg. “There’s just not that same draw that there used to be to go pull some reading material out of the seatback pocket.”
SkyMall’s parent company, Xhibit Corp., also filed bankruptcy. “We are extremely disappointed in this result and are hopeful that SkyMall and the iconic ‘SkyMall’ brand find a home to continue to operate as SkyMall has for the last 25 years,” Wiley said in a news release.
In early 2014, Bloomberg reported, the company tried to reboot itself as an online retailer but ran out of cash to pay employees and vendors. According to a court filing, SkyMall is hoping to continue as a barebones operation while seeking a buyer for its online business and other assets.
In trading Friday, Xhibit’s stock was down 3 cents at $0.02.