The fraud trial has started in Paris of former bosses and bankers of Air Liberte, the low cost carrier that went bankrupt in February 2003 with 3,200 people losing their jobs. Those in the dock include Jean-Charles Corbet. The former Air France pilot and chair of the French Airline Pilots’ Union is accused of diverting million of euros from the airline.
In 2003 a French parliamentary board of inquiry was highly critical of Corbet, who among other things was found to have used company funds to buy 150,000 euros worth of jewellery for this wife.
Among the money lost by the airline was a 30.5 million euro loan from the French government.
When Air Liberte – which was France’s second largest carrier – finally collapsed it owed 100 million euros, everything from plane leasing payments to landing fees to fuel bills.
The airline had never made money. It was bought by British Airways in 1997 as part of a disastrous attempt to enter the French market. Three years later BA sold its controlling interest to Swissair which went bankrupt which is when Jean-Charles Corbet stepped in.