Hundreds of passengers have been stranded by the demise of Hungary’s debt-ridden national airline.
Malev ceased operating after its planes were held overseas for unpaid debts. Its grounding marks the end of 66 years of almost continuous service.
Those stuck at Budapest Airport and elsewhere are at the end of their tethers, wondering how they are going to get from A to B.
“They gave us this certificate that is supposed to refund the money but we don’t know because this girl doesn’t know exactly what is going to happen either,” said Spanish passenger Pedro Fernandez.
“I am sorry but I have paid for my tickets,” said one exasperated woman, seeking information from an official in the Hungarian capital’s airport.
“I have got to go somewhere. Find me someone quickly!”
Despite the airline’s well known financial troubles, travellers said they were still taken by surprise. Some were worried about the broader implications.
“I think this hurts the whole image of Hungary,” said Hungarian passenger Laszlo Kozma. “If I am not mistaken, Malev is more than 66 years old. This has never happened before and then suddenly it happened within days.”
Hot on the heels of Spanair’s collapse in Spain, Malev, employing 2,600 people, simply ran out of cash. Last month the EU said the carrier has to pay back 130 million euros of state aid it had received.