Friday, January 27, 2012

Spanair ceases operations

Spanair MD-83 (49938/1785) EC-FXA "Sunstar" is captured with her thrust reversers deployed as she arrives at an unknown location.
(APF Collection)

Spanair ceased operations late Friday after a regional government in Spain announced it could no longer fund the airline, officials said.

Spanair's financial woes were exacerbated by a 2008 crash that killed 154 people. Eighteen people survived what was Spain's worst aviation disaster in 25 years. In a statement, the airline said its "last commercial flight will land at" 10 p.m. (2100 GMT) on Jan. 27.

The regional government of northeastern Catalonia, which had been investing in the country's No. 4 airline since its 2008 purchase from SAS Scandinavian Airlines System International, said in a statement that it could no longer bankroll Spanair.

The Catalan government said the "current economic climate" and "European legislation concerning competition" made it impossible for it to continue financing the small carrier, whose hub was Barcelona airport.

Spain's Development Ministry also published a statement requiring Spanair to "fulfill its obligations with passengers."

The airline advised passengers who had booked flights with it to consult its website where it said "full information" would be displayed. However, from just before 9 p.m. (2000 GMT) the website read only "Website access not available."

Spanair said it had communicated its decision to Spain's air authorities and had been coordinating its demise with AENA, the country's airport authority, and with the Development Ministry, which is responsible for civil aviation.

Spanair has a fleet of 36 mainly aging aircraft and flew to 19 domestic and 24 international destinations, which included Algeria and Poland.

The airline, which also ran a commuter service between Madrid and Barcelona, was in trouble financially before Spanair Flight JK5022 an MD-82 jet crashed on takeoff on Aug. 20, 2008 as it tried to leave Madrid bound for the Canary Islands.

In December 2008, SAS sold the airline to tourism group Consorci de Turisme de Barcelona and Catalana d'Iniciatives, a private equity group.

(Associated Press)

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