SkyMall, the ubiquitous inflight magazine that served as catalog-based shopping mall, has filed for bankruptcy protection.
After 25 years of offering ingenious products that frequently bordered on being outrageous, quirky, or plain indulgent, SkyMall filed for bankruptcy protection this week. Perhaps a victim of relaxing rules and the rising use of technology during flights, the paper-based magazine is gearing up for a hard landing. According to papers filed Thursday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix, SkyMall LLC is seeking a court-supervised sale of its assets.
The company’s acting Chief Executive, Scott Wiley, said in a statement on Friday, “We are extremely disappointed in this result and are hopeful that SkyMall and the iconic ‘SkyMall’ brand find a home to continue to operate.”
It appears, the company is fully aware of its shrinking appeal amidst the rise of eCommerce
portals that are eagerly being accessed, sometimes after shelling out extra for in-flight WiFi.
“A crowded, rapidly evolving and intensely competitive retail environment is the reason for the quarterly publication’s recent struggles. With the increased use of electronic devices on planes, fewer people browsed the SkyMall in-flight catalog. The increase in the number of airlines providing internet access resulted in additional competition from e-commerce retailers and additional competition for the attention of passengers, all of which further negatively impacted SkyMall’s catalog sales.”
What was once an ever-present feature in the seat pockets on many domestic flights, the SkyMall magazine has been discontinued by Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines owing to “decline in customer use of the publication.” The SkyMall retailing business had revenue of just about $33.7 million in 2013, which drastically declined to just $15.8 million for the nine months ending on September 28, 2014.
SkyMall fully suspended its retail catalog operation January 16 and laid off 47 of its 137 employees, revealed court papers. SkyMall’s parent company, Xhibit Corp., which acquired the business in 2013, is also seeking Chapter 11 protection.
Will SkyMall live on? It is hard to say since no buyer has made an attempt to take advantage of the brand that had a strong association with domestic flights. If the bankruptcy deal doesn’t go through, SkyMall will cease to exist. However, the majority of the products that were once sold by SkyMall can be found on popular online shopping destinations.
SkyMall was once the sole in-flight option for potential purchasers of products to review while traveling, But it has clearly been beaten by rapidly evolving technology.
[Image Credit | SkyMall, Fortune]