The public prosecutor of the southern Swiss canton of Ticino has opened criminal proceedings over irregularities concerning the bankruptcy of regional carrier Darwin Airlines.
According to the SonntagsZeitung paper, the Ticino public prosecutor opened criminal proceedings against “unknown persons” on Thursday after the bankruptcy office in Lugano drew his attention to suspected irregularities. The regional carrier, that operated flights from Lugano to Rome and Geneva, was forced to declare bankruptcy this month after its fleet was grounded by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation. Its staff of around 250 employees have not been paid since October, according to trade union OCST.
According to a spokesperson for the public prosecutor's office in Ticino, the bankruptcy authority suspected that the right action in dealing with the airline's financial crisis was not taken. No indications were given on what crimes were actually committed.
Darwin Airlines was founded in 2003, after Swiss International Airlines dropped its Lugano route a year earlier. The bankruptcy marked the end of several months of speculation and efforts to turn around the fortunes of the small airline, which was attached in July to Adria Airways, themselves belonging to Luxembourg fund 4K Invest. However, the decline of Alitalia earlier this year, as well as the more recent dissolution of Air Berlin, had negative knock-on effects on Darwin, notably by increasing competition in a crowded market and discouraging further investment.