Established in 1986 as a charter airline by Scandinavian airlines with a Spanish travel company, Spanair began scheduled international flights in 1991 followed by Spanish domestic flights in 1994. Membership of Star Alliance came in 2003. Skytrax rated them a 3 star airline.
Spanair struggled to make money and in June, 2007, SAS announced it would sell most of its 94 per cent shareholding. SAS failed to find a buyer, however, and finally sold 83.1 per cent for a euro to the government of the Catalonia region in Spain in January, 2009. This region gave the airline millions of euros to keep the Barcelona-based airline, with 3,161 employees, aloft. However, with the deteriorating financial situation of the Catalan government, that cash supply halted in January, 2011
The airline then sought a white knight. This seemed to appear in the form of Qatar Airlines and negotiations began with the airline to arrange a buy out. These negotiations ceased on Friday January, 27 in the morning. At 930pm (Barcelona time), Spanair released a statement: ”Faced with the lack of financial visibility for the coming months, the company has decided to cease its operations as a measure of caution and safety,”
Half an hour later, the last scheduled Spanair flight landed. The result was an estimated 22 000 passengers stranded, which rival carriers Iberia, Vueling and Easyjet are handling as best they can.
The airline immediately shut down its website (http://www.spanair.com/) and sent out a final tweet: Nos despedimos no sin antes ofrecer nuestras más sinceras disculpas a los afectados y agradecer la confianza depositada. A todos, gracias. (we say goodbye but first we offer our sincere apologies to those impacted by the closure and to acknowledge your confidence in us. To everyone, thank you.”).
Their Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/spanair?sk=wall) carried a similar message to the Tweet along with a statement about the closure.
Its phone lines ((900 13 14 15 or +34 971 916 047 – in English), are now the only form of contact and no one is sure how long they will be open.
SAS will effectively lose SEK 1.8 billion (€191 million) as a result of the closure.
I never flew Spanair (I have flown Iberia #1 Spanish carrier in terms of passengers and Vueling #2) so I have never experienced their service or staff. Anyone able to comment on what it was like? Thoughts go to the employees and passengers impacted negatively by this sad news. Surely, they could have had more than 30 minutes warning?