A Budapest court has placed Malev Hungarian Airlines under bankruptcy protection to keep the airline out of outright bankruptcy proceedings. A trustee has been appointed to control all expenditures planned by the airline, and management has been told to present a “liquidity plan” tomorrow.

The board of directors earlier this week urged the government to step in once more for help, but conceded that given European Union regulations on state aid, options were “extremely limited.” The government has set aside funds to assist stranded passengers in case the airline is grounded.

Chairman Janos Berenyi says that the airline cannot continue in its current form. He still pins hopes on a new investor, but the likelihood that somebody will step in quickly is small. China’s HNA Group, parent of Hainan Airlines, pulled out of talks last year; however, the Bloomberg news agency reports that the group could be willing to re-enter negotiations.

In case the airline cannot be rescued, all efforts are focused on establishing another Budapest-based carrier. “The question is how we can find a smooth transition until a new national carrier is established,” Berenyi said at a news briefing in Budapest. “In this situation, money runs out very fast. Funds that would normally last a month may be depleted in a few days if the airports start asking for fees in advance. If we can avoid these unexpected costs, we can continue flying. If not, anything could happen.”