Spanair shut-down strands thousands of passengers

Spanair shut-down strands thousands of passengers

BARCELONA - Agence France-Presse
Spanair shut-down strands thousands of passengers

People seek claims at the desk of Spanair at Barcelona’s airport on Jan 28. Loss-making Spanish airline Spanair ceased operations late on Jan 27. REUTERS photo

Passengers were stranded at Spanish airports on Jan. 28 after airline Spanair abruptly went bust, cancelling all its future flights at half an hour’s notice.

“The company has decided to cease its operations as a measure of caution and safety,” Spanair said in a statement late on Jan. 27 , citing a poor financial outlook.

Its last scheduled flight landed at 10 p.m. local time, leaving rivals such as Iberia, Vueling and Easyjet to share out the passengers left stranded by the airline, which runs flights within Spain and Europe.

Spanish media said at least 22,000 passengers were affected over the weekend. A queue of 200 surprised passengers formed at Spanair counters at Barcelona airport on Jan. 27 evening shortly after the announcement.

By Jan. 28 airports authority AENA said the situation was normal at Madrid’s Barajas airport and Barcelona’s El Prat, where special lounges had been allocated for Spanair customers. “Passengers are turning up at these zones and the other companies are putting them on flights,” an AENA spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse.

She said 55 Spanair flights were scrapped at Madrid and 54 at Barcelona on Jan. 28 alone, with a handful of flights cancelled on two of Spain’s major islands, at Palma de Mallorca and Gran Canaria.
“The Spanair management regrets this and apologises to all those people who are affected by this situation,” the company said.

The Spanish government said it was taking disciplinary action against Spanair for breaching rules on continuity of services and passengers’ rights in the course of its sudden shutdown, and may fine it up to 9 million euros.

The public works ministry said in a statement that it was launching “sanction proceedings for two serious breaches of the Air Safety Law which could lead to fines of 4.5 million euros in each case.”