Spanair stops operations and faces nine million Euro government fine
The decision of Qatar Airways not to take a 49% share in the Spanish airline means the operation is not viable.
Qatar Airways has decided not to invest in Spanair, and the Barcelona Generalitat regional government has announced they will no longer inject funds into the airline.
It means the airline will not get the 150 million € which it was expecting from Qatar for a 49% share. It seems Qatar have decided to turn away for fear of sanctions for the airline regarding the Government grants. Since 2009 the Generalitat has given more than 100 million to the airline, and Qatar wanted assurances that the European Commission would not claim that money back at a later date. As a consequence the airline suspended all its flights from 2am Saturday, given the fact that its financial situation is untenable, with large losses and a large debt. Doing so came with the news from the Ministry for Development that they could be fined as much as nine million for two ‘serious infractions’, and see their licence withdrawn. The Government considers the airline has failed in its obligation to supply a continued service on the one hand, and failing to respect the rights of the passengers in second place.
The company gives direct and indirect jobs to some 4,000 people, and says it needs 150 million to face their financial obligations. It would normally offer some 200 flights a day. Known by some as the ‘Catalan Iberia’, the company never really recovered from the Madrid Barajas tragedy which saw the death of 154 people as a Spanair plane tried to take off on August 20 2008. The continued court cases and enquiries have kept the name of the airline in the media related to the accident since then.
Other low cost airlines across Europe have repeatedly complained about Spanair getting public funds from the Catalan Government, and a formal request to the European Commission to investigate was underway. With so many people stranded, it has been up to Vueling, Air Europa and Iberia to cover most of the Spanair flights. All of them are offering national flights to Spanair ticket holders for 60 €, with links from the Canaries and Baleares at 90 € and international flights for 100 €.
Easyjet has decided to bring forward a new service between Bilbao and Madrid from Monday January 30. It was being planned to start on February 19. The airline will be offering tickets for Spanair travellers at 50 €.
Ryanair has also announced ‘rescue tariffs’ for Spanair ticket holders at 49 €. They will cover 21 routes which connect Barcelona, Girona and Madrid with several cities in Spain and across Europe.
Consumers organisation FACUA is investigating a possible fraud in the sale of Spanair tickets. They complain of the lack of transparency over what has happened and note that Spanair did not stop selling tickets until 6,30pm on Friday. The Spanair Chairman, Ferran Soriano, explained that knowing that the airline was not financially viable, the prudent and safe think to do was to cease the airline’s operations.
Those who have tickets are asked to call these numbers – 902 13 14 15 or 900 13 14 15.
There is a number in English - +34 971 916 047.
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