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Will Beleaguered TWA's Financing Plans Fly? : Aviation: Funding for the airline is still up in the air with a bankruptcy court hearing fast approaching.

August 10, 1993|From Bloomberg Business News

WILMINGTON, Del. — With a bankruptcy court hearing on its reorganization plan just a day away, Trans World Airlines Inc. remains without the financing it says is crucial for it to emerge from Chapter 11 protection.

Last week, TWA said--prematurely, as it turned out--that it had negotiated financing with the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri.

On Monday, however, TWA spokesman Don Fleming said "the statement was perhaps a little more aggressive" than the situation warranted.

A few hours after that, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis mayor's office said the state of Missouri has dropped out of three-way talks on financing for TWA.

Fleming said that negotiations are continuing with the city of St. Louis, which is a major TWA hub.

TWA is scheduled to ask a bankruptcy court judge Wednesday for approval of its reorganization plan.

Glenn Zander, one of the executives who has been running TWA while it is under Chapter 11 protection, had said the carrier thinks it will have about $200 million in hand when it emerges from bankruptcy.

TWA has arranged for one of its bondholder groups to provide $40 million as part of a complicated settlement with that creditor group, but no other source of cash is clear.

Zander said much of that cash will be "internally generated."

People close to the negotiations said TWA negotiated to obtain $60 million to $70 million from the city of St. Louis and is offering its assets at the St. Louis airport, Lambert Field, as collateral.

According to one of those sources, $40 million would come through a bond issue, and the deal is contingent, among other things, on an appraiser agreeing that TWA's St. Louis assets are worth $70 million.

Fleming said he could not confirm those details.

Fleming was asked whether the bankruptcy confirmation hearing would be postponed if outside financing is not secured.

"Whatever the financing is, it is on track," he said.

The company does expect to go to court on Wednesday, he said.

Most of those close to the case say it is highly unlikely that Judge Helen S. Balick would turn down TWA's plan if it appears at all reasonable.

Analysts, however, have questioned TWA's viability if it does not raise significant amounts of cash to carry it forward after bankruptcy.

Even $200 million may not be enough to see the airline through the sluggish fall and winter travel seasons, said Scott Hamilton, editor of Commercial Aviation Report.

TWA filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, 1992, and has posted operating losses every month since then.

The company has funded continued operations by selling off assets and by borrowing.

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