Spanair stops flying after Qatar deal falls through

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Star Alliance carrier Spanair has announced that it is halting all operations today, with the last flight expected to arrive at its Barcelona base at 22:00, after talks with Qatar Airways over a cash-for-shares deal collapsed.

Flights had begun to be cancelled from the middle of the afternoon after the airline’s other potential saviour, the Catalan regional government, made it clear that the carrier could expect no further loans from the authorities.

Spain's public airport operator Aena has prepared special areas at Madrid Barajas and Barcelona El Prat airports to assist stranded passengers. An Aena source said the number of affected passengers may amount to "several thousand" at the two airports. Aena is asking passengers with Spanair tickets not to travel to the airport until they have a confirmed seat on another airline.

Spanair's local competitors, Iberia, Vueling and Air Europa, have announced contingency plans to accommodate Spanair passengers.

Iberia is offering a flat fare of €60 ($79.15) for Spanair ticket holders on Spanish mainland and Balearic routes, €90 for routes to the Canary Islands and €100 for other European routes.

Additionally, the Oneworld carrier will be operating, in co-ordination with Aena and the Spanish government, additional frequencies on routes where Spanair had high market share – notably Madrid to Barcelona, Bilbao, La Coruna, and the Balearic and the Canary archipelagos.

SAS, the former owner and current minority shareholder of Spanair, said the carrier’s bankruptcy will cost it around SKr1.7 billion ($250 million) in writedowns, comprising SKr1.47 billion in outstanding debts and SKr249 million in guarantees and costs. It said it valued its 10.9% shareholding in Spanair at zero.

Spanair was acquired on 31 January 2009 by a Catalonian consortium composed mainly of public institutions. They hoped to develop Barcelona El Prat airport into an international hub with the help of Spanair, which relocated from Palma de Mallorca to Barcelona for that purpose.

Spanair operated a fleet of 24 Airbus A320 family aircraft, alongside four Boeing MD-80s, according to Flightglobal Acas data.