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Fokkers could be back in production

Kevin O'Toole/LONDON

FOKKER COULD RESTART production of a limited number of new aircraft, if proposals being drawn up by its receiver are accepted by the Dutch bankruptcy courts.

When the Dutch manufacturer collapsed in February, it won permission to build 15 aircraft which were already close to completion. That work is due to run out in mid-June, but the company's official receiver is drawing up plans to produce another tranche of aircraft.

The plans, to be presented for court approval shortly, will have to show that Fokker can bring in money from the production without any further outflow of cash.

Potential customers are being asked to make a firm commitment to acquire the aircraft, backed by bank guarantees and a large down-payment from which suppliers could be paid, says Fokker.

Discussions have not only been with airlines which hold unfulfilled backlogs with the company, but also with new customers. "We've never been so popular than since we went into bankruptcy," says Fokker.

It is now close to finishing the first tranche of 15 aircraft. Delivery has taken place of one Fokker 50, three 70s and two 100s. Another four Fokker 60 military utilities and two Fokker 50s have been built, and are being fitted out for the Royal Netherlands Air Force. That leaves only two Fokker 70s and a single turboprop on the assembly line.

Keeping the assembly line open is seen as crucial to Fokker's chances of finding a rescuer for the bankrupt business.

Russia's Yakovlev and Tupolev design bureaux have had discussions over acquiring control, but have yet to present a full set of proposals. Reports in Moscow say that the companies are seeking Russian Government guarantees covering funding of around $370 million. Two Dutch businessmen have also proposed deals.

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