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Paris court protects AOM/Air Liberté from creditors

AOM/Air Liberté chairman Marc Rochet has been given three months to find a solution Keystone Archive

A commercial court in Paris has placed the French airlines, AOM/Air Liberté, and their units under protection from their creditors for the next three months, staving off the threatened closure of the troubled company.

This content was published on June 20, 2001 - 10:44

The airline filed for protection at the court in the Paris suburb of Creteil last Friday after its two main shareholders, Swissair Group and France's Marine-Wendel, refused to fork out the money needed to keep the company afloat.

The three-month reprieve will allow the group to work on alternative recovery plans, said Serge Monnin, a representative of the airline's works' council.

Marc Rochet, chairman of the ailing group ruled out selling parts of the airline and said only an overall rescue plan including a major restructuring could save the troubled group.

Rochet explained in a French radio interview that he would hold separate meetings on Wednesday with employees' representatives and the group's two main shareholders, as well as with potential investors.

Rochet said neither the British discount airline, EasyJet, nor the French tour operator Nouvelles Frontieres were viable partners for his group because they only wanted to buy part of its activities.

He said he had asked Air France to take on between 800 and 1,000 staff as part of the planned restructuring of AOM/Air Liberté.

Rochet declined to name the potential investors he planned to meet but said they were French, even though he has not ruled out looking further afield in his attempt to save the company.

Swissair, which has a 49.5 per cent stake in the airline, had agreed to fund AOM/Air Liberté until the end of this month and to put up about two thirds of a restructuring package of SFr700 million ($396 million) to help it leave the group.

However, the Marine-Wendel group, which is technically the controlling shareholder with a 50.5 per cent stake, refused to pay its share of the restructuring plan.

Swissair had made it clear that it was only prepared to inject its share of the necessary cash if Marine-Wendel also participated.

Last week, Marc Rochet explained to the trade unions that SFr500-750 million would be enough to salvage the group by financing a management-proposed restructuring plan under which 1,300 jobs would be cut and by keeping flights running until October at least.

swissinfo with agencies

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