We have just received some clarifications from Yves Panneels, spokesman of SHS Antwerp Aviation, and would like to amend our article of 9 September 2016 as follows.
The trustees of the bankrupt VLM Airlines in Deurne have an agreement in principle for the acquisition of the Antwerp airline by a Dutch investment group that came into contact with the curators already shortly after the bankruptcy of VLM through its Dutch agent. VLM Airlines was declared bankrupt in June this year.
The new investor is SHS Antwerp Aviation NV, a 100% Belgian subsidiary of SHS Aviation of The Netherlands, itself owned at 60% by Dutch investors and 40% by Canadian investors having their home in Hong Kong.
The prospective purchaser would have presented a detailed but also ambitious business plan. The plan does not only involve the acquisition of the bankrupt VLM, but also the development of other aviation activities elsewhere in the country. More details about these will be published later. Sixty jobs would be saved for at least one year, from the 160 jobs before the bankruptcy.
The airline can use the seven remaining Fokker 50 aircraft that it stills owns, but one of which is no longer airworthy. Four of the initial 12 aircraft were sold last year to a leasing company and leased back.
The new owner cannot start flying immediately. He will need to ask for a new AOC (Airline Operator certificate), which could take some time.
The Dutch intermediary mentioned, Harm Prins, is the CEO of the new company SHS Antwerp Aviation. He has been involved in aviation projects in the Netherlands (Holland Exel) and France (Air Exel) in the past, but without much success. The man appeared already on the scene in Antwerp six years ago when he acted as intermediary for the acquisition of the Antwerp Opel plant by a Chinese investment group. That plan was eventually abandoned. In the Netherlands, the man is rather controversial, partly because of his possible involvement in an extortion case for which he spent some time in jail. He was fully acquitted and even received a financial compensation from the Dutch State for being held in custody erroneously. The curators of Dutchbird and Holland Exel confirmed to the curators of VLM Airlines that Harm Prins is not to be blamed for the demise of the two Dutch airlines.
In early November 2016 there are still 15 persons at work, in charge of re-launching the airline and obtaining the AOC.
No decision has yet been made on the name of the future airline. Either the name VLM will be retained or another name will be selected.
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