Tens of thousands of passengers have been left stranded after Air Madrid suspended all of its flights. The privately-owned airline blames the Spanish government which publicly threatened to suspend its flying license over flight delays. Air Madrid says as a result suppliers cut off credit and ticket sales fell.
Many of those stranded were South American migrants heading home for Christmas. One woman waiting at Madrid airport said:
“We have been here for seven years and it is the first time that we wanted to go home.” A man also waiting at the airport said: “This has dashed the dreams of thousands of children who wanted to go home to spend the Christmas holidays with their parents.”
Spain’s top transport civil servant said the government was chartering planes to send the most needy passengers home. “It is extraordinary that the company has cancelled flights,” said Fernando Palao. “We are trying to resolve the cases of greatest humanitarian need.” Air Madrid says it will reduce delays by scrapping a fifth of its schedule but the government says that is not enough to save its license. It says it will sue the airline claiming damages to cover the five million euros spent on emergency flights.