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Airline Spanair collapses, passengers stranded

MADRID—Passengers were stranded at Spanish airports Saturday after airline Spanair abruptly went bust, cancelling all its flights at short notice.

“Faced with the lack of financial visibility for the coming months, the company has decided to cease its operations as a measure of caution and safety,” Spanair said in a statement on Friday evening.

Its last scheduled flight landed on Friday night, leaving rivals such as Iberia, Vueling and Easyjet to share out the passengers left stranded.

Spanish media said at least 22,000 passengers were affected over the weekend but Spanair spokespeople were not immediately available to confirm this to AFP.

A queue of 200 surprised passengers formed at Spanair counters at Barcelona airport on Friday evening shortly after the announcement, an AFP journalist said.

Airports authority AENA said Saturday morning everything 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 AFP.

She said 55 Spanair flights were scrapped at Madrid and 54 at Barcelona on Saturday alone, with a handful of flights cancelled at Palma de Mallorca and Gran Canaria.

The company said in its statement Friday: “The Spanair management regrets this and apologizes to all those people who are affected by this situation.”

Spanair, founded in 1986, had tried to survive by a tie-up with Qatar Airways which fell through.

The Catalania regional authorities, which owns part of the company, said it was unable to increase its stake due to crisis budget cuts and EU limits.

In 2008 one of Spanair’s jets crashed on take-off at Madrid airport with the deaths of 154 people.


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