VEX To Force DAT To Continue Wet Leases?

Thu Nov 22, 2001 12:16 am

Press Release

Virgin Express Announces Discussions with Private Investors and Commercial Cooperation with DATBrussels, 14th November 2001 :

On 6th November Virgin Express (NASDAQ: VIRGY; Euronext Brussels: VIRE) announced that discussions with the Sabena management, aimed at resolving the crisis in the Belgian airline industry, had broken down. A number of issues remained unresolved and our ability to move forward to develop our business was being prevented. As a result we announced the start of flights to four new destinations : Geneva, Zurich, Stockholm and Gothenburg. Services to three destinations started yesterday and Stockholm will start on the 18th November. Following the bankruptcy of Sabena on 7th November, Virgin Express has entered discussions with Sabena’s Receiver (Curateur/Curator), with DAT management and with a group of Belgian private investors, represented by Messrs. Davignon and Lippens.Our discussions with the group of private Belgian investors, who have raised funds with a view to set up a viable new airline built
around DAT, are proving encouraging. Both parties are keen to explore the possibility of a closer cooperation between Virgin Express and DAT which may eventually lead to the creation of a new Belgian airline, with a low cost base, aimed at both business and leisure passengers. Confidentiality agreements have been signed to allow for the full exchange of information. Discussions continue. In addition commercial agreements have been reached with the DAT management to put in place a number of measures that will improve the operating efficiency of both companies. A more detailed announcement on these arrangements will be made in due course.Since the announcement of the Sabena bankruptcy and the grounding of DAT aircraft, Virgin Express has made great efforts to accommodate stranded and inconvenienced passengers on routes that we operate. Because of the uncertainty of the status of the airport slots formerly held by Sabena and operated by Virgin Express on our code-share routes, we have had to adjust our schedules and use temporary slot allocations.
We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience they have suffered and we thank them for their patience and their loyalty. We are making all efforts to resolve this matter as soon as possible. In the meantime, passenger bookings with Virgin Express continue at record rates.Yesterday, the Sabena Receiver advised that the wet-lease agreements between Sabena and Virgin Express terminated as of the 7th November. We strongly contend that if the airport slots on which these flights are operated can be transferred out of Sabena, so should the wet-lease agreements. The matter is being pursued.