11 February 2004
AMSTERDAM — It remains uncertain whether the flights by embattled airline Air Holland, which has been granted a temporary stay on debt repayments, will go ahead this week as stranded passengers were sent home on Wednesday.
The Dutch airline is finding it financially difficult in getting planes into the air and is only trying to operate its route to the Netherlands Antilles. But about 100 passengers were left stranded at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on Tuesday night.
Air Holland tried in vain on Wednesday to arrange another flight to the Antilles, but company administrator P. Ingwersen said no other air plane were available, news agency ANP reported.
Foreign passengers were subsequently offered accommodation at hotels, while Dutch residents were told to return to their homes. Air Holland hopes to arrange a flight to the Netherlands Antilles on Thursday.
Two flights are scheduled for Thursday and Friday to bring more than 400 passengers to the Antilles, but Ingwersen — who made a point of saying on Radio 1 on Wednesday morning that he was not a company trustee — could not confirm whether the flights would proceed.
“We are examining day-to-day if it is possible to fly,” he said.
Air Holland has amassed debts totalling EUR 22 million and Haarlem Court granted the airline a temporary stay on debt repayments on Tuesday.
Ingwersen has since revealed the airline is in talks with various companies about a restart of operations. Air Holland has faced financial troubles for several years and narrowly averted bankruptcy in 2002.
Travel agency D-Reizen has labelled the situation with Air Holland as extremely frustrating. Several hundred people have booked flights via D-Reizen with Air Holland and if the company is declared bankrupt, passengers will be refunded, public news service NOS reported.
Amsterdam businessman Erik de Vlieger — who owns English-language newspaper The Amsterdam Times — took over the Air Holland long haul routes, such as to Mexico, last year.
De Vlieger’s airline Holland Excel now operates the long-haul routes and a large percentage of Air Holland’s estimated 300 workers have crossed over to his company. Only a few workers are still on the books with Air Holland.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news