VICTORIA MOORES / LONDON
French regional carrier Air Littoral's future remains uncertain after would-be investor 7 Group failed to meet an 18 December deadline for funding its takeover of the airline, leaving the way open for management training company Ionis.
Ionis, which has offered to take over Air Littoral under the same conditions granted to 7 Group, has been given until 23 December to pay the initial €11 million ($13 million) needed to secure the acquisition. The new deadline comes as 7 Group - which recently bought Italian carrier Azzurra Air - insists that it has lined up Italian investors to provide the necessary capital.
President of 7 Group Mario Palmonella says the company has had difficulties in meeting the court-appointed deadlines, but says the problems are "normal for this period for an airline company".
Palmonella says a group of Italian investors is prepared to inject the required €11 million in exchange for 90% of the share capital in a new company called Azzurra Air Littoral, the holder of the air operator's certificate. The remaining 10% would belong to Azzurra Air.
But sources at Air Littoral say 7 Group has missed its chance and that the investment company is "definitely out" of the bidding.
Azzurra Air needs recapitalising to pay debts and 7 Group is working on raising €10 million. Recapitalisation is set to take place at a shareholders' meeting on 7 January. Although Air Malta holds 49% of Azzurra Air, Palmonella says the carrier "will not subscribe" to the recapitalisation effort.