OneWeb has become the latest company to announce changes as a result of the economic uncertainty following the outbreak of COVID-19, which continues to take its toll across the aviation industry. By declaring chapter 11 bankruptcy, the satellite operator plans to reorganize its debts and remain in operation.
OneWeb has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy relief after failing to obtain the necessary financing for its commercial launch. While the company said that it was engaged in advanced negotiations regarding further investment at the beginning of the year, the market turbulence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic saw the process come to a halt.
Since its inception, OneWeb has managed to secure approximately $3.4 billion in funding from the likes of Japanese tech giant SoftBank, Airbus, Grupo Salinas and Qualcomm Technologies, among others.
“We remain convinced of the social and economic value of our mission to connect everyone everywhere,” commented Adrian Steckel, OneWeb’s CEO. “Our hope is that this process will allow us to carve a path forward that leads to the completion of our mission, building on the years of effort and the billions of invested capital.”
In a press release, the company said it “intends to use these proceedings to pursue a sale of its business in order to maximize the value of the company.”
OneWeb was one of the five founding members of Seamless Air Alliance. launched at Mobile World Congress in 2018 with the goal of making “the in-flight internet experience simple to access and delightful to use.”
In September 2019, OneWeb vowed to “revolutionize” in-flight connectivity with its constellation of low earth orbit satellites. Around the same time, OneWeb’s VP Commercial Aviation Ben Griffin spoke to APEX Media at Aviation Festival London 2019 and explained in detail its plans for a 650-strong satellite network, due to enter commercial service in late 2021.
To date, OneWeb has launched 74 satellites on three separate missions. The most recent launch of 34 satellites took place on March 21, 2020, the day after the company revealed to TechCrunch that it had already laid off some of its workforce.