The Belgian Government is considering a renewed Swissair offer to buy 49.5% of Sabena. Preliminary agreement could be reached in the next few days.

Swissair is understood to have cut its original BFr12 billion ($380 million) to BFr8 billion following the collapse of a Sabena plan to form a pool of 450 pilots in Luxembourg to save on labour costs.

The airlines are not commenting formally on the situation, but each management team is working towards agreement. Belgium's transport ministry, however, is stressing that it is now an issue for the shareholders - effectively the respective Governments.

The BFr8 billion offer is understood to consist of BFr2 billion as a cash injection into Sabena, BFr4 billion to buy Air France's 37.5% stake from Belgium's Finacta, and BFr2 billion to buy part of the Belgian Government's holding.

A possible difficulty is a resolution to be placed before European transport ministers on 14 March which will call for the outlawing of "flags of convenience" inside the European Union.

Source: Flight International