THE DUTCH Government has allowed Fokker a two-week stay of execution until 15 March, to give the ailing aircraft manufacturer time to talk with potential rescuers.

The decision to extend Fokker's credit for another two weeks followed the announcement by the Bombardier group that it would not be making an offer for the company, saying that the deal carried too many risks.

South Korea's Samsung is the only other potential suitor to be named so far, although Fokker says that there are talks with other parties.

Fokker's best hopes of surviving as a Dutch aircraft manufacturer, however, now seem to rest with attempts to pull together a consortium of Dutch businesses, prepared to run the company as a stand-alone operation.

"There's a definite interest in the Netherlands," says Fokker. Dutch industrial-machinery manufacturer Stork has already indicated that it could be interested in purchasing Fokker's electronic, military equipment and maintenance units.

Doubts are growing within the industry that Fokker can now survive in its present form. "We have to remember that Fokker faces a very difficult problem - no-one should be very optimistic," says Roy McNulty, president at Shorts, the Bombardier subsidiary, which supplies Fokker wings.

British Aerospace has categorically ruled out any interest in Fokker. Mike Turner, chairman of BAe's civil-aircraft businesses, says that assembly costs are some 30% higher in Netherlands than in the UK, and adds that serious questions over Fokker's long-term viability, are raised by the future prospect of a new regional-jet family being launched, under the auspices of Airbus.

The Air International (Regional) partnership between BAe and ATR has already taken the first steps towards such a consortium, he says.

Source: Flight International