Sabena given breathing space to solve financial problems

Sabena has been given a two month grace period to sort out its financial problems Keystone Archive

Sabena has been granted bankruptcy protection by a Belgian court, giving the flag carrier a further two months to sort out its financial problems.

This content was published on October 5, 2001 - 15:49

Sabena filed for protection from creditors on Wednesday after Swissair, which holds a 49.5 per cent stake in the airline, failed to make a promised payment of SFr200 million ($132 million) this week.

Immediately after the decision, taken by a commercial court, Sabena said that new "large-scale measures" were already in the offing.

The airline has already put forward a restructuring plan which would involve cutting 2,000 jobs, dropping some routes and selling off its aviation-related businesses. The deadline for the new plan is November 15.

According to Denis De Meulemeester, spokesman for the labour union, a two months protection period is not enough. "The period is way too short and way too strict," he said.

The Belgian government, which owns 50.5 per cent of the ailing airline, said it would be prepared to grant Sabena a one month bridging loan worth SFr185 million ($114 million) in order to keep the airline flying.

Sabena said it has lost millions due to the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, which added losses of about SFr200 million ($122 million) in the first half of 2001.

swissinfo with agencies

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