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Time’s up Swissair pays back millions of government loan

The grounding of the national airline Swissair sent shockwaves throughout Switzerland and caused damage to the country's reputation

(Keystone)

The Swiss federal authorities have recovered CHF220 million ($227 million) from an emergency loan made to Swissair, the former national airline that collapsed 15 years ago under a mountain of debts. 

The Swiss Federal Audit Office reported on Monday that it had recovered CHF220 million for the federal coffers, which formed part of a bigger federal loan made to the defunct airline in 2001.

The office said for years it had challenged the use of part of the CHF1.15 billion loan made to cash-strapped Swissair to help it to keep operating and to find a buyer hours after the company’s traumatic grounding on October 2, 2001.

Crippled by huge debts, that day Swissair’s planes remained glued to the tarmac around the world. The once-proud national carrier no longer had enough money to pay airport taxes or buy kerosene for its aircraft.

The audit office discovered that part of the loan had not been used according to an agreement at the time. Fifteen years later, Swissair’s liquidator has agreed to refund the money, the audit office said in its annual reportexternal link published on Monday.

The audit office has published 46 audit and evaluation reports this year, twice as many as in the previous year as part of efforts to promote better transparency, it said. It has also given media access to a further 30 reports requested on the basis of the Freedom of Information Act.

This year the office reported five “major shortcomings”, which include management problems at the Foundation for Buildings for International Organisations (FIPOI) in Geneva, public tender operations and computer projects at the Federal Roads Office and two budget overspends by the Lausanne Federal Institute of Technology. In each case the cabinet was informed. 

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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