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Cargolifter Goes Way of Hindenburg

Once a boutique project of nascent eastern German entrepreneurialism, airship developer Cargolifter declares insolvency.


A dream deflated: Cargolifter ran out of money before it could build its mega blimp

German airship-developer Cargolifter said on Tuesday it had run out of cash and would be unable to meet payroll for its close to 500 employees in May.

Once seen as a promising entrepreneurial newcomer in the turbulent economic landscape of the country's former East German states, the scrappy startup was developing giant airships to transport heavy payloads over vast distances.

The enormous CL 160 blimp evoked the glory days of Germany's zeppelins, which plied the skies from Berlin to Lake Constance during the early part of the 20th Century.

A lack of working capital had already forced the Berlin-based company to abandon its prestigious project.

Cargolifter's balloon of hope deflated even further on Tuesday. The company says it needs at least 70 million euro ($65 million) to cover its financial commitments through autumn 2003. All efforts to secure an investment deal or a state-funded rescue package appear to have been in vain.

The company struck a deal earlier this month to work with U.S. aerospace giant Boeing to develop commercial blimps, but few analysts feel the company will step in to save Cargolifter.

Insolvency proceedings are on hold for the time being as Cargolifter hunts for a last-minute bailout. The company's shares lost eight percent on Tuesday before being suspended from further trading.

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