Low-cost airline 1Time has decided to suspend services with immediate effect and apply for liquidation, 1Time chief executive Blacky Komani said.

The suspension of services left thousands of passengers stranded countrywide.

Komani said that at about 2:30pm on Friday the 1Time board decided together with the business practitioner involved with the airline's attempted business rescue to suspend services with immediate effect and apply for liquidation.

“There is nothing else to say; I'm too emotional,” Komani said.

Planes in the air at the time flew back to base. Other scheduled flights remained grounded.

Komani said the airline had 540 staff and was operating 7 plans before services were suspended.

1Time has been trading under the protection of a business rescue.

The firm had about R320 million in short-term debt and had been in negotiations with creditors since March.

Later that month, a business rescue specialist was appointed and the trade union, Solidarity, said that retrenchments had been put off.

The specialist would have drawn up a refinancing and restructuring plan for the company.

The low-cost airline made news headlines this year for engine failures on two different planes.

Earlier this year, another low-cost airline, Velvet Sky, went into liquidation after failing to convince a court it was a candidate for business rescue.

The airline sustained a loss of R35.8 million for the six months to June. - Justin Brown and Sapa