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Rescue for Swissair subsidiaries

The three airline related Swissair units have been salvaged for the time being Keystone

Swissair planes are no longer in danger of being grounded a second time as the Finance Ministry has found a solution to the financing crisis at subsidiaries of the collapsed airline.

This content was published on November 3, 2001 - 00:25

SR Technics, Atraxis and Swissport, which have been in financial dire straits since the collapse of the national flag carrier, will receive funds as part of the SFr1 billion provided by the government under a SFr4.24 billion rescue package for Swissair.

Peter Siegenthaler, director of the Swiss finance ministry, said on Friday he would transfer the first tranche of SFr50 million to the airline, now that the problem with the subsidiaries has been resolved.

Switzerland's two largest banks, UBS and Credit Suisse as well as Unique, the company running Zurich airport, will pay a SFr100 million bridging loan to SR Technics.

This amount is expected to keep the maintenance unit's operations going until it can be bought by other investors.

This solution comes one week after Dr. Hans Ulrich Beyeler, president of SR Technics, raised fears that Swissair may be grounded again because his company may not be able to service the aircraft if it were not given financial help.

Atraxis, the information technology unit, will also be able to keep up its operations until the end of November. The ministry said takeover talks for the company are well advanced.

The liquidity for Swissport, the baggage and freight handler, is also said to be secured for the next few weeks.

Gate Gourmet secure

The provisional administrator of the Swissair Group also announced that he had approved fresh credit for Swissair Group's cash-strapped catering unit, Gate Gourmet.

"The liquidity problems at Gate Gourmet should be overcome by a credit of SFr30 million ($18.4 million) from [Swissair] to be granted on standard banking terms," administrator Karl Wüthrich said in a statement.

He said the credit would be secured by pledging a 70 per cent stake in Turkish catering company, USAS Uçak Servisi.

Wüthrich added he was seeking to extend debt-restructuring procedures in other countries to prevent as far as possible any foreign debt enforcement, particularly the seizure of aircraft.

Cheaper tickets

Meanwhile Swissair and Crossair launched a new discount ticket scheme aimed at filling up planes and raising cash to cover costs. The move could provoke the ire of the European Commission.

The airlines are offering economy class tickets for more than 80 destinations at prices as low as SFr199 for Europe, SFr490 for the United States and Canada and SFr890 for Africa, Asia and South America.

European Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio has expressed concern about Swiss state cash aid to Swissair, saying this should not lead to market distortions.

swissinfo with agencies

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