LET Kunovice, the manufacturer of one of the most versatile utility aircraft in the L-410 has been made bankrupt. What good did Ayres Aircraft do? Absolutely bugger all. Here is the report
by James Drake
PRAGUE - The Czech Republic's largest aircraft maker, Let Kunovice as, was declared bankrupt by a court Tuesday, a ruling that may force the exit of the company's strategic investor, Albany, Ga.-based Ayres Corp.
Bankruptcy administrator Zlatava Davidova set a creditors' meeting for Jan. 8, 2001, to appoint a creditor committee. "The task now is to keep the firm operating and find a new owner to replace Ayres," Davidova said.
Ayers was not available for comment Wednesday.
The petition was filed by Burlington, Wash.-based Pan Pacific Airways, Let staff and state-owned bailout bank Konsolidacni Banka.
Konsolidacni had claimed that Let's strategic partner, Ayres, had defaulted on its promise to bring operating capital to Let.
Pan Pacific filed suit for the return of its deposit on the purchase of five 19-seat L-420 planes, claiming that Let had not been proceeding with construction on schedule.
Most of Let's staff have been on forced leave for the past three months and have not been paid since May.
Let had been gearing up to double its workforce of 1,400 to fill more than $2 billion in orders from Federal Express Corp. and others for Ayers' Loadmaster, a 69-foot cargo plane designed with FedEx.
Ayres was supposed to finance the Loadmaster program with $30 million of its own funds plus $70 million from suppliers, such as Minneapolis-based electronics components and controls manufacturer Honeywell Inc. and Richfield, Ohio-based B.F. Goodrich Co., the world's largest manufacture of airplane landing gear.
Press reports have suggested that BAE Systems plc, formerly British Aerospace, might bid for Let. Officials at Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. have also said they may be interested in the Czech company.
Let posted a Kcs500 million ($12 million) loss on Kcs672 million in revenues in 1998, the most recent figures available.