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DASA stands by ailing Fokker

Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

DAIMLER-BENZ Aerospace (DASA) has confirmed it will continue to fund Fokker into the new year, in a move to counter growing fears that the manufacturer would be left to fend for itself unless a funding agreement was agreed with the Dutch Government before the year-end.

DASA announced in a public statement on 15 December that it would continue to take responsibility for Fokker's liabilities as long as talks continue with the Dutch Government, calming nerves on the Amsterdam stock market. Fokker has been allowed to retain its market listing "...for the time being".

The German aerospace giant had earlier agreed to guarantee Fokker's debts until the end of 1995, when a rescue plan, including DM1.5 billion ($1 billion) in fresh funds, was due to have been agreed between DASA and the Dutch Government.

Talks between the two major shareholders have been deadlocked, however, with DASA saying that it would not go ahead with the rescue unless the Dutch Government joined in the refinancing, but with senior Dutch politicians expressing opposition to any further subsidies.

Fokker says, that it will continue in business in the new year, by entering into commitments only, "...on the basis of and within the scope of authorisations granted by DASA".

DASA has recently transferred 35 Fokker-owned aircraft to its debis financing arm to help strengthen the Dutch company's balance sheet. The remaining Fokker fleet is due to be transferred, in early 1996 (Flight International, 6-12 December).

Despite its financial crisis, Fokker is beginning to see signs of recovery in the regional-aircraft market. The manufacturer was expected to have ended 1995 showing 46 new orders for its regional jets. Deliveries ran to 41 aircraft, mostly of the smaller Fokker 70, during the year.

A better year was rounded off with an order from Austrian Airlines for a further three Fokker 70s in an 80-seat configuration, with three options. The new aircraft will start to join the carrier's existing fleet of four at the end of 1996.

Fokker has also received an order from Japanese commuter airline Nakanihon Airline Service, for a third 56-seat Fokker 50 turboprop.

DASA itself remains embroiled in heated debates with unions and politicians over its "Dolores" (Dollar Low Rescue) restructuring plan and is considering a fresh bout of lobbying to win support from politicians and customers. The company has floated plans for an 18-man task force in Bonn to draw up a "total aerospace strategy".

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