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Spanair's sudden collapse leaves over 30,000 passengers stranded

Spanish airline Spanair collapsed suddenly over the weekend due to a lack of funding, shutting down 220 flights and leaving passengers stranded across Europe and Africa.

Spanair, Spain's fourth-largest airline, collapsed suddenly over the weekend, leaving over 30,000 passengers stranded across Europe and Africa, BBC News reported

As of Monday, at least 37,000 passengers' flights had been affected by Spanair's decision to ground all operations late Friday, a Spanair spokesman said, AFP reported

"Spanair is permanently in contact with the Spanish aeronautical authorities participating in the Barcelona airport crisis committee where continually evaluates the contingency plan for the cessation of the airline´s operations," said a statement on the company's website. "Spanair apologizes to all our customer affected by this situation." 

The airline's chairman Ferran Soriano said that Spanair, which is based in the Catalonia region and subsidized by the Catalan government, had failed to attract investment and the regional government decided to stop providing funds, the UK Press Association reported. The airline was in takeover talks with Qatar airlines, according to the BBC. 

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Spain's government began legal proceedings against the airline on Friday, which could lead to Spanair being fined 9 million euro (nearly $12 million) for two "serious infringements" of aviation security legislation, development minister Ana Pastor said. 

"The ministry will not cease until those who failed to fulfill the norms and trampled on the rights of citizens take full responsibility," Pastor told a news conference, RTE reported

Spanair filed for voluntary bankruptcy Monday, AFP reported. The airline declared liabilities of more than 300 million euros ($393 million), the High Court of Catalonia said in a statement.

Low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet had challenged the legality of the government subsidies Spanair was receiving to the European Commission, BBC News reported. 

Ryanair said on Monday that it was looking at opportunities in Spain.

"We certainly see it as an opportunity to expand our base," it said, according to BBC news.

Spanair, whose hub was Barcelona airport, employed around 2,000 people and used the services of about 1,200 ground staff, UKPA reported. The collapse could lead to the loss of 4,000 jobs.

In August 2008, Spanair was responsible for a crash that killed 154 people, according to AFP. It was considered to be Spain's worst aviation disaster in 25 years. Only 18 people survived after a jet crashed shortly after take-off as it tried to leave Madrid for the Canary Islands.

Spanair is the third Spanish airline to go under during the past five years, AFP reported. Air Madrid folded in 2006, and Air Comet in 2009.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/spain/120130/spanair-collapse-bankruptcy-passengers-stranded