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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Nov. 5, 1999 – Marshall Islands Journal)---Air Marshall Islands’ Saab 2000 is history. That’s the good news; the bad news is the sale could only generate less than one-third of its original sale price of more than $16 million.

The troubled aircraft was sold Friday for $5.3 million to a Europe-based air carrier, ending four years of woes while injecting some much-needed cash into AMI.

The plane was sold despite a last-minute hiccup that had threatened to drag out the sale. Thursday last week, the plane was prepared for an "acceptance flight," which would have sealed the deal, but the auxiliary power went down, preventing the flight.

"It was ironic," said AMI general manager Phil Marshall, "because this was the same part that failed when the plane was first flown out from the factory to Majuro and had to be grounded on Guam."

However, instead of having to wait for several days for parts to be flown in, AMI engineer Dan Fitzpatrick came up with a solution to the problem, allowing the plane to make its test flight the following day, concluding the deal.

As a result, Marshall and AMI had to save their celebration for the sale for only 24 hours.

The sale generates a good deal of revenue for AMI – which has just recently initiated a $28 million deal for two new planes with the German company Dornier Fairchild. But because the Saab was not in great demand, the airline lost heavily – for a plane that Marshall said AMI should never have bought.

Management was never consulted on the purchase of the Saab, he said.

The Marshall Islands Journal, Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail:  Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year US $87.00; international $213.00 (air mail).

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