A Mexican bankruptcy judge has pushed back a deadline for investors to recapitalize beleaguered airline Mexicana de Aviacion until Feb. 10, 2012.

Judge Felipe Consuelo Soto said the extension of the deadline will enable the carrier to continue searching for a new owner and negotiate a restructuring of its debt, adding that Mexicana is "viable," strategically important and that some 8,500 direct jobs and 200,000 indirect jobs are at stake.

The Mexicana group of airlines, which also includes sister budget carriers Click and Link, halted operations last year and filed for bankruptcy protection after racking up an estimated 12 billion pesos ($888 million) in debt.

Mexican authorities, including a temporary administrator and conciliator named by Soto, are analyzing the company's viability, possible paths to restructuring its debt and a workable operating plan.

One of the most promising potential suitors for the airline is Mexican businessman Ivan Barona, who has pledged to invest $400 million and has until Wednesday to demonstrate he has the $250 million authorities say are needed to return Mexicana to the skies.

Barona submitted a document in recent days attesting to his financial capacity to participate in the bidding process.

The judge, in remarks to RadioFormula, scolded Mexican authorities for their lack of action to rescue the airline.

Soto last week said potential investors in the airline told him they had been anonymously contacted by phone and warned not to put their money in a trust to salvage Mexicana, which faces liquidation of its assets if no deal is reached.

The judge said that could explain why since last year other potential Mexicana suitors "have not come up with the funds to capitalize the company."

He speculated that competitors of Mexicana interested in the airline's "highly coveted" slots and routes could be behind the threats.