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Monday, 5 November, 2001, 17:04 GMT
Sabena 'to suspend operations'
Sabena aircraft coming in for landing
Sources say the planes will not fly on Wednesday
Belgium's indebted national airline, Sabena, is expected to suspend operations on Wednesday, both government and company sources told Reuters.

"There will be no Sabena flights on Wednesday," a member of staff said, though he did not know how long the suspension would last.

An official Sabena spokesman declined to comment and said the airline had nothing to say to passengers holding tickets.

About 12,000 jobs may be lost if Sabena collapses.

Bankruptcy looms

No new investor has been found for the airline, so the its holding company may be put into liquidation this week, chief executive Christoph Mueller said in a memo late last week, according to trade union sources.

"Management confirmed to us that Sabena is inescapably headed for bankruptcy," said the Belgian Cockpit Association's Joel Gans.

The airline was last month granted bankruptcy protection for two months by a court in Belgium.

It has about half that period left to run.

Sabena's management said the search for a recovery plan continues.

"We've been working night and day, but we still don't have a plan," said spokesman Olivier Gillis.

Swissair

Sabena's debts total about 2bn euros (1.2bn; $1.8bn).

Its talks with investors, aimed to attract 372m euros in fresh cash, started after its part-owner, Swissair, reneged on a promised 136m-euro injection into the Belgian airline.

The reconstruction of the Swiss company, which is rolling its viable operations into its regional subsidiary Crossair, is expected to be partly funded by the government.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Patrick Bartlett
"Sabena is thought unable to push through a re-structuring plan"
See also:

01 Nov 01 | Business
Swissair rescue hopes brighten
17 Oct 01 | Business
Sabena rescue gets EU blessing
17 Oct 01 | Business
Europe says no to airline aid
15 Oct 01 | Business
France offers state aid to airlines
12 Oct 01 | Business
Airlines ask EU for more aid
10 Oct 01 | Business
Full EU statement on airline aid
04 Oct 01 | Business
EU complains over Swissair aid
23 Sep 01 | Business
Airlines receive $15bn aid boost
12 Oct 01 | Business
Round-up: Aviation in crisis
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