Futura Airways files for bankruptcy protection

Spanish charter carrier Futura International Airways cancelled all flights today after filing for bankruptcy and its Irish subsidiary Futura Gael ceased operating after losing its air operating licence.

Futura bosses reportedly have until Friday to come up with a rescue package, when the Spanish aviation authority will decide whether to withdraw the carrier’s operating licence. The airline has proposed halving its fleet of 22 aircraft.

The carrier is based in Palma, employs 1,200 staff and operates charter services from several UK airports, primarily to Majorca, Malaga, Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

The UK Civil aviation Authority is not involved, but a spokesman confirmed UK tour operators would have passengers affected by a cessation of operations. Futura carried 3.7 million passengers last year.

Futura called in advisors on restructuring in August, when Dublin-based Futura Gael proposed substantial wage cuts for its 90 employees. The airline’s problems follow the recent collapse of long-haul budget carrier Zoom Airlines. Futura is the largest European carrier so far to get into difficulty as a result of the aviation downturn and the first dedicated leisure airline to file for bankruptcy this year.

The carrier began flying in 1990, created as a joint venture between Spain’s Banco Santander and Irish flag-carrier Aer Lingus. Its first service flew between Palma and Manchester. Aer Lingus sold its majority stake in 2002 and relinquished its final shares last year.

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