It's Not Looking Good For Personal Jet Developer
Amid reports that
employees are "voluntarily" leaving Safire Aircraft Company
after the company admitted that it can't pay them (at the
moment); ANN has learned that the foreign financing package first
disclosed last week in an exclusive conversation with Safire
President and CEO Camilo Salomon, has hit some snags.
Just last Friday, we reported that Salomon claimed that reports
of payroll and associated problems had been "brought current," and
that a very recent capital infusion should have given them
sufficient cash to see the Safire through to it's first flight
later this year. Solomon explained that the claimed windfall was
not one that had been disclosed previously, and that the deal was
the culmination of three months of negotiations.
He refused to disclose much detail at that point, only revealing
that the investment capital was provided by a private equity group
from Switzerland. Salomon did note that he did not expect the
recent hiccup to add much to the timeline for the Safire's upcoming
first flight, allowing that, "it might push it back a week or
That was then... but reports that came in late Monday and early
Tuesday indicated that payroll was NOT being brought current with
all affected parties, and that the money expected from the Swiss
concern may have fallen through.
"It hasn't fallen through... it's just been delayed," claims
Salomon, in a Tuesday afternoon conversation with ANN.
Salomon did admit, though, that employees were informed that they
could not be paid until the financing came through but that he
refused to resort to actual layoffs. "Those that want to stay until
we get financing can do so, and those that can't, can do what they
need to do.... but we haven't laid anyone off."
It is Salomon's contention that the current financing program
will eventually come through and even noted that he had a closing
date of June 17th on the schedule. "Yes, we're having a difficult
time, but we'll get out of it, I'm sure of it" Salomon added.
In the meantime, though, Safire's boss insists that progress is
still being made on the prototype jet and that construction
continues unabated. Industry scuttlebutt is mixed. While the Safire
program was one of the few that looked like it was making slow
progress, it lagged badly behind the Eclipse 500 and Cessna Mustang
programs. With the Adam 700 encountering increasing difficulty
(most of it reportedly due to highly optimistic and allegedly
unrealistic projections), Eclipse and Mustang may have the
multi-engine personal jet market to themselves (with Diamond the
only company offering a single engine jet, period) until something
or somebody new comes along.
The Company's six place twin-turbofan-powered Safire Jet, priced
at $1.395 million, was (optimistically) scheduled to make its first
flight later this year, with deliveries beginning in 2006. We'll
keep you updated as this story develops...