Spanair shuts down as bankruptcy looms

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Spanair shuts down as bankruptcy looms

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Spanish airline Spanair has ceased operations after talkover talks with Qatar Airways broke down.

A message greeted callers on Saturday to the company’s customer service hotline telling would-be travellers that all flights have been grounded.

The collapse of the Barcelona-based carrier has affected more than 20,000 passengers.

The regional government of Catalonia owns 85.6 percent of Spanair.

It has refused to provide further financing, forcing the shutdown.

Development Minister Ana Pastor said Spainair could be fined about nine million euros.

“The Development Ministry will not stop until those who failed to respect the rules and trampled over citizens rights assume their full responsibilities.”

Madrid says Spanair is legally obliged to help those hit by its closure.

The airline has struggled financially in recent years; its woes only compounded by the ongoing economic crisis and increased competition from low-cost carriers.

Its former owner, Scandinavian Airlines, said Spanair will file for bankruptcy although this has not been confirmed by the Spanish company.