DENVER (AP) _ A Connecticut investment firm that specializes in acquiring distressed companies is considering a bid for MarkAir, a development that increases the struggling airline's chances for survival.

Wexford Capital Corp. is competing with a group led by USAir Shuttle president Terry Hallcom. The groups have not made formal offers, said John Siemers, attorney for MarkAir's unsecured creditors.

A sale of Denver's only long-haul discount carrier would dramatically improve its health. The airline declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April and its flights were grounded because of maintenance concerns for nearly a week in July.

Either bidder likely would insist on big concessions from creditors.

On Friday, a federal bankruptcy court judge in Alaska will evaluate the competing bidders and decide which should proceed with the examination of MarkAir's books so a firm deal can be negotiated, Siemers said.

Wexford Capital was formed in November by investor Charles Davidson and bankruptcy attorney Robert Miller.

Miller was involved in the restructuring of several troubled companies, including Continental Airlines and the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. He also represented R.H. Macy & Co. and helped arrange its sale to Federated Department Stores.

Davidson formerly was at Steinhardt Partners, where he was responsible for investments in Sunbeam-Oster, Wang Laboratories, Tuscan Dairy Farms and Integrated Resources.