Question marks hang over the future of Tenerife, Spain-based ATR operator Islas Airways, following a week of pilot walkouts and flight cancellations on the back of a financial crisis.
Islas' employees, who claim not to have received salary payments for three months, staged a walkout on 9 October, bringing its operation to a complete standstill. Since then, the airline has restarted operations, but according to the real-time flight status information system of Spanish airport operator AENA, the airline has continued to cancel 30-40% of its daily departures.
A local airport source confirmed on 14 October that Islas had continued to "cancel about one-third of its flights". While no official Islas Airways source could be reached, Rafael Gallego, the head of the Spanish association of travel agencies, voiced his concerns that the airline "might follow the path of [bankrupt] Spanair".
This would create an air transport monopoly on the inter-Canary Islands routes. This is a market of nearly four million passengers per year and has proven highly profitable for market leader Binter, but ruinous for Islas, which tried to compete with lower fares but lacked the critical mass.
The Canary Islands regional government has repeatedly announced its "support" for Islas, to avoid a Binter monopoly, while admitting that it "lacks the authority to intervene in the market".
Islas operates six ATR 72 turboprops, three -200 and three -500 models, according to Flightglobal's Ascend Online database. It serves six destinations on the Canary Islands and is 100% owned by local construction businessman Miguel Concepcion.