Here are further details of the Air Holland situation, including a not so happy Delsey Airlines owner, Mr. Tony Gram......
Air Holland seeks Eurocontrol settlement, incurs investor wrath
Maria Wagland, London (28Aug02, 17:31 GMT, 614 words)
Dutch charter carrier Air Holland is in talks with Eurocontrol in the hope of settling its legal dispute over unpaid charges prior to a planned 10 September bankruptcy hearing instigated by the air traffic control provider.
But the airline has separately fallen out with its major investor - Delsey Airlines owner Tony Gram of Belgium - over the state of its finances.
Air Holland today spoke with Eurocontrol following its decision to pursue the carrier through the courts for non-payment of charges.
Eurocontrol lead lawyer on the case Frans Vreede from Dutch firm Boekel de Neree says: “Eurocontrol are prepared to withdraw proceedings if they are paid in full. We are not negotiating a settlement but I do not exclude that Air Holland will bring up a substantial amount. I do not exclude that the court will suspend the case.
“I have just talked to Air Holland and told them it is essential for them to have an offer that suitably convinces not only Eurocontrol but also the Haarlem district court to keep the matter for a few weeks.”
He hints that a minimum payment of 75% of the amount would have to be made. “If the amount offered would be in that range then I would be willing to try to persuade Eurocontrol to withdrawn proceedings.” At the same time he is uncertain whether Air Holland would be able to make such an offer.
Vreede says that as of today the amount claimed by the company has gone up to €1.7 million ($1.6 million), more than when Eurocontrol asked the court on 15 August to put the airline into administration, claiming just under €1.5 million.
He stresses that this is the last stage of a long list of actions taken by Eurocontrol before going to court. Vreede was instructed in May to begin the process. Previously Eurocontrol had arranged a weekly payment plan that was only partially met by Air Holland.
The Dutch airline’s ownership is currently confused. Belgian entrepreneur Tony Gram bought out 100% of Air Holland in May this year at which time he embarked on plans for restructuring and developing the carrier alongside Delsey Airlines, which he bought as VG Airlines earlier in the year and renamed.
Delsey founder and CEO Freddy Van Gaever says Gram never received the full transfer of shares that he was scheduled to receive only days after the agreement was signed. Regardless, Gram, owner of luggage companies Delsey and Kipling, continued to invest in the company.
He points out that Air Holland is continuing its rapid growth, moving from one aircraft in May to three Boeing 757s in its fleet. Today it received its first Boeing 767 that will be used for its new charter operations for Air Gabon starting next week.
But Van Gaever remains concerned over the financial position of Air Holland and insists that the true financial picture for Air Holland was made clear to Gram only recently.
“I am very sad that so much money has been throw into a ditch,” he says. He says the airline’s book-keeping is in “chaos”. “It is something I would think would happen in South America and Africa and not Holland,” he declares.
Van Gaever says that Gram has lost “millions” of dollars that were invested in the airline - including money paid for the 100% shareholding - although details of the purchase price were never disclosed.
He claims that Delsey Airlines itself has lost $2 million in payments due from the airline for its wet-lease operations for Air Holland. Van Gaever says: “[Delsey] has flown nearly $2 million for them and we have not received a penny.”
Air Holland did not respond to enquiries.
Source: Air Transport Intelligence news
Anyone willing to place a bet on whether Air Holland will make it beyond 10 September.