Budget rivals step in following Spanair collapse

An estimated 22,000 passengers with bookings on more than 220 flights have been left stranded with the collapse of Spanish carrier Spanair.

EasyJet brought forward the launch of Madrid-Bilbao flights by three weeks to today (Monday) in an effort to handle affected travellers with a special fare of €50.

Ryanair is offering a €49 rate on 21 mainly Spanish domestic routes for Spanair passengers for travel until February 12 if booked by February 4. Vueling, Air Europa and Iberia are also providing special fares for affected passengers

Spanair, owned by a consortium based in the northeastern region of Catalonia, shut down operations on Friday night due to a lack of funding.

The Barcelona-based carrier employed around 2,000 people and used the services of about 1,200 ground staff.

The airline blamed “exceptional circumstances” for the suspension of all services and said it was finalising an agreement with IATA to refund passengers holding Spanair tickets.

“This agreement will let the travel agencies refund the complete price to those passengers that paid the ticket in a travel agency by bank transfer or cash,” a statement on the airline’s website said.

“All other passengers who bought their tickets by credit card directly at or in a travel agency, they will need [to] enquire for refund options with their card issuer.

“The Spanair contact center (telephone number within Spain: 900 13 14 15 and from outside Spain: +34 971 916 047) and our Spanish sales offices in the airports will remain open to attend to customers as far as possible,” the airline said.

Chairman Ferran Soriano was quoted over the weekend as saying that the airline had failed to attract inward investment and consequently the regional government of northeastern Catalonia took the decision to stop providing funds.

The Catalan government cited the “current economic climate” and “European legislation concerning competition” as the major factors influencing its decision.

But the Spanish government launched legal action against Spanair for allegedly violating the country’s aviation regulations by suddenly ceasing operations.

The legal proceedings could lead to Spanair being fined €9 million for two “serious infringements” of aviation security legislation, according to development minister Ana Pastor.

Spanair suffered a crash in 2008 that killed 154 people. Eighteen survived what was Spain’s worst aviation disaster in 25 years involving an MD-82 which crashed on take off at Madrid airport.

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