Spanish air carrier collapses, grounding 29 aircraft and stranding 20,000 passengers

L'HOSPITALET DE LLOBREGAT, Spain, 30 Jan. 2012. Spanish airline Spanair in L'hospitalet De Llobregat, Spain, the fourth-largest Spanish commercial air carrier, ceased operation on Saturday, idling the airline's fleet of 29 aircraft and stranding more than 20,000 passengers across Europe and Africa. Spanair stopped its flights after Qatar Airways in Qatar Airways in Doha, Qatar, stopped talks to take over the ailing Spanair, which in 2010 reported an operating loss of nearly $152 million.

Spanish air carrier collapses, grounding 29 aircraft and stranding 20,000 passengers
Spanish air carrier collapses, grounding 29 aircraft and stranding 20,000 passengers

L'HOSPITALET DE LLOBREGAT, Spain, 30 Jan. 2012. Spanish airline Spanair in L'hospitalet De Llobregat, Spain, the fourth-largest Spanish commercial air carrier, ceased operation on Saturday, idling the airline's fleet of 29 aircraft and stranding more than 20,000 passengers across Europe and Africa. Spanair stopped its flights after Qatar Airways in Qatar Airways in Doha, Qatar, stopped talks to take over the ailing Spanair, which in 2010 reported an operating loss of nearly $152 million.

The airline was seen as a flagship of the regional government of Catalonia, which had helped it stay afloat with nearly $200 million in subsidies. The airline once was owned by Scandinavia's SAS Airlines, which still has an 11 percent share of Spanair. Spanair cancelled all its flights when it ceased operations.

The Spanish carrier's aircraft fleet consisted of 19 150-passenger Airbus A320-200 single-aisle jetliners; five 185-passenger Airbus A321-200 single-aisle jetliners; one 152-passenger Boeing MD-82 jetliner; three 155-passenger Boeing MD-83 jetliners; and one 130-passenger Boeing MD-87 jetliner. As of November 2011, the average age for the Spanair fleet was 12.1 years.

Although it was unclear today how Spanair creditors might dispose of the airline's fleet, officials of low-cost European carrier Ryanair in Dublin, Ireland, reportedly were looking into opportunities that Spanair's collapse might offer.

As of this morning, Spanair officials were telling stranded customers that they are contacting other airlines such as Vueling, Iberia & Air Europa to find flights home, providing special fares to those affected passengers who want to fly in the next few days. Spanair officials are finalizing an agreement with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to refund passengers for purchased but not-yet-flown tickets.

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