Dutch Antilles Express Airlines (DAE) bankruptcy looks imminentPOSTED: 05/31/11 11:43 AM
WILLEMSTAD\GREAT BAY – The bankruptcy of airline DAE is expected anytime. Curacao’s Minister of Economic Development Nasser El Hakim (MFK) has expressed concern about the situation and the potential impact on staff and the image of the aviation sector in Curaçao.
“My expectation is that DAE will be bankrupt within a few hours. It is of course, a private company, but the government is concerned about the airline’s 250 workers who have received no wages. We are also concerned that this can create a bad image for the aviation sector in Curaçao. This kind of development puts us at risk of ending up on blacklists, as we did in the past with ALM and DCA. It is a disaster,” El Hakim said.
The minister has been working with a team of 11 people for a month to seek solutions to the precarious financial situation of the airline. He’s not elaborating on the precise issues at the airline, having labeled the findings “sensitive.”
“Every solution led us to additional facts, which the owner of DAE (Arnold Leonora) had not previously disclosed, making the proposed solutions unworkable. We have now not been able to contact the owner for two weeks. I even heard a rumor that someone got a Blackberry message from him over the weekend that he was enjoying a lovely sunny day in Atlanta,” El Hakim said.
The potential bankruptcy was hinted at on April 19 when the company’s leadership told the media they needed financial help and were planning to seek a strategic partner. They said they’d gotten no help from the government and the local banking sector. At that time the airline had 160 employees. On May 12 the company took a massive hit, because the court had ruled the new owners must pay the former owner Niek Sandmann 1.5 million guilders from a procedure that was filed on December 9, 2010 and carried a fine of 150, 000 guilders per day that it was not paid. Leonara left Curacao shortly after that verdict and has been difficult to reach ever since.
From an analysis flights on the routes that DAE serviced should continue because other airlines fly those routes. For example Insel Air flies to Bonaire, Aruba, Santo Domingo, Valencia and St. Maarten and has expressed interest in flying to Caracas. Copa Airlines also flies to Panama from Curacao and Avianca flies to Bogota.