The bankruptcy judge handling the restructuring of Mexican airline Mexicana de Aviacion has been temporarily removed due to potential irregularities in the case, the Federal Judiciary Council, or CJF, said.
Felipe Consuelo Soto, who has overseen Mexicana's bankruptcy proceedings since they began two years ago, was the target of six complaints and denunciations filed by the airline's creditors.
"In particular, they claimed the judge made public pronouncements in favor of some parties in the proceedings," the CJF, which oversees Mexico's courts, said in a statement.
Consuelo Soto was to either oversee the airline's successful emergence from bankruptcy protection and resumption of operations or order its liquidation.
But the CJF's administrative and disciplinary organ opted to remove him from the proceedings "to preserve guarantees of impartiality amid recent public declarations," although it maintained the move should not be construed as a "judgment" on Soto's conduct from the bench.
In May, the Med Atlantica group acquired 95 percent of Mexicana, which suspended operations in 2010 due to its financial woes.
Med Atlantica is led by Spanish businessman Christian Cadenas, although 80 percent of the group's capital comes from Mexican investors.
The Mexicana group of airlines, also including sister budget carriers Click and Link, grounded its operations in August 2010 after nearly nine decades in business and filed for bankruptcy protection shortly thereafter to restructure a debt load of more than $800 million.
The process has dragged on for two years and, although progress has been made in 2012, no concrete date has been set for the airline to resume operations.
In February, Med Atlantica deposited $300 million and showed proof of its ability to recapitalize the airline.
The airline is expected to return to the skies this year with a staff of just 2,500 workers, meaning that severance packages still must be negotiated with the remaining 5,500 employees.
Early this month, the Mexican government asked Consuelo Soto to replace the conciliator and administrator in Mexicana's bankruptcy proceedings, Gerardo Badin, citing delays in getting the carrier back on sound financial footing.
The Communications and Transportation Secretariat suggested Jose Luis Stein-Velasco, who has held various government posts and is director of a legal and financial consulting firm, as a potential replacement. EFE