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American Airlines to Buy Up to 150 Fokker Jets

From Associated Press

Fokker, the Dutch aerospace group that was near collapse just 16 months ago, is close to wrapping up a $3-billion deal involving the sale of 150 passenger jets to American Airlines, a company spokesman confirmed today.

“We’re discussing the final minor details” on the deal, valued at $3.09 billion, Fokker spokesman Bart van Veen said.

The sale includes 75 firm orders and 75 options that are to be placed by the Ft. Worth, Tex.-based airline for Fokker’s 100-seat F-100 twin jet, a plane for feeder routes of up to 1,100 nautical miles, Van Veen said.

It was not immediately known when the contracts would be signed, Van Veen said.

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American’s order, considered a crucial breakthrough for Fokker into the U.S. aviation market, was billed as the largest-ever deal in Dutch industrial history.

The deal, which took five years to negotiate, is the latest stage in the recovery of the Dutch aviation company, which almost collapsed in 1987 under the financial burden of developing two new models, the F-100 and the F-50 propjet.

In a controversial bailout that year, the Dutch government put up 212 million guilders to support Fokker. The move, involving the purchase of Fokker stock at roughly $10 a share, resulted in the government becoming the majority shareholder with a 31.8% interest.

“It looks like the government did a good deal,” Van Veen said, noting that at midday trading on the Amsterdam bourse, Fokker shares were up 3.70 guilders to 45.80 guilders, or $21.80 a share.

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Fokker’s order books for the F-100 now show 212 firm sales and 178 options, Van Veen said, adding that “American’s options may be described as very firm ones.” Among other U.S. buyers is USAir, which has 20 planes on order.

Van Veen said that since Fokker’s Amsterdam production line has an annual maximum capacity of 46 F-100 jets, “we’re now looking to expand our production capacity” in the United States, Northern Ireland, or at home.

In the United States, Fokker has had talks with Lockheed Aircraft Corp., Grumman Corp., and Rockwell International Corp. to set up a second F-100 production line.


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