Swissair is scrambling to rescue several of its non-flying subsidiaries this week as Switzerland's banks, airports and local authorities work to come up with cash to tide the operations over until a buyer can be found.

The Swiss finance ministry has told the airline that none of the SFr1 billion ($613 million) bridging loan promised by the Government to keep Swissair operational until its merger in April with Crossair can be used to fund its non-flying operation.

In response, Zurich canton, which owns 49% of Zurich airport, has pledged SFr100 million to the non-flying operations to stave off an immediate cash crisis which would result in Swissair being grounded again. However, Crossair chief executive André Dosé has already said that maintenance arm SR Technics and Atraxis, its information technology subsidiary, each need SFr140 million, while the ground handling operation, Swissport, needs SFr50 million to keep operating.

Zurich, Geneva and Basle cantons, together with Swiss banks and domestic airports, are in talks to raise the required funds.

Swissair has apparently made progress on selling the operations. Lufthansa is in the running to buy Atraxis. IBM, tipped as a possible buyer, withdrew last week. Another unnamed suitor is still in talks. Swissport will also be sold, with UK venture capitalist Candover Investments reckoned to be a likely buyer.

Crossair has suggested it might take SR Technics under its wing. However, the airline has admitted it has no money for an outright takeover.

Source: Flight International