Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fokker Ends 77 Years of Jets

AMSTERDAM -- Pioneering aviation firm Fokker NV collapsed Friday, ending 77 years of Dutch aircraft making and triggering the biggest corporate mass layoffs in Dutch history.

The regional jet maker, whose founder supplied tri-planes to German World War I fliers, announced that it had lost a desperate struggle to find a buyer, and declared bankruptcy at three core units.

"This means the end of 77 years of aircraft history in the Netherlands," said Fokker chairman Ben van Schaik.

Crippled by debt and heavy losses, Fokker had been kept airborne by state-guaranteed bridging credits while frantically searching for a buyer since its German parent, Daimler-Benz AG, severed a cash lifeline Jan. 22.

"We have been fighting until the very last moment, that means until this morning, to keep Fokker in the air. However we have not succeeded," Van Schaik said, adding that he would now leave the company.

The bankruptcy affects more than 5,600 workers, but 960 will be offered jobs at non-core divisions, such as electronics systems and aircraft maintenance, that escaped collapse. They will be lumped into Fokker Aviation and will continue to fly the Fokker flag, with a work force of some 2,500.