SABENA files for bankruptcy protection

Belgian national airline SABENA filed for protection from its creditors on 3 October. The status, known as ‘Judicial Composition’, gives the struggling carrier time to attempt to re-organize. Swissair, which owns 49.5 per cent of SABENA, had been due to inject Euro 130 million (US$90 million) into the Belgian carrier, but is unable to do so because of its own financial problems. Under European Union rules banning state aid to airlines, the move also prevented the Belgian Government from providing the Euro 90 million that would have been its share of the recapitalisation. The airline’s precarious financial situation was further worsened by a series of strikes by its pilot union, who are opposed to the restructuring plan proposed by SABENA’s management. The Government did extend a Euro 125 million bridging loan to SABENA for a month to allow the airline to continue operating while it attempts to restructure. SABENA subsidiary Delta Air Transport (DAT) is expected to form the core of a restructured SABENA. DAT, which operates 6 BAe 146-200s, 14 Avro RJ85s, and 12 RJ100s, is the only profitable part of the SABENA group.

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