Pas­sen­gers stranded as Primera Air col­lapses

The Malta Business Weekly - - NEWS -

A bud­get air­line that be­gan of­fer­ing long-haul flights from UK air­ports ear­lier this year, in­clud­ing Stansted to the US, has col­lapsed.

Primera Air said it was ceas­ing all op­er­a­tions at mid­night on Mon­day af­ter 14 years of op­er­a­tions.

Flights to Wash­ing­ton and New York due to leave Stansted on Mon­day night were grounded and pas­sen­gers have been told not to go to the air­port on Tues­day.

One flight from Birm­ing­ham to Malaga ar­rived on Mon­day evening.

The air­line, which had 15 planes, be­gan of­fer­ing low­cost flights from Stansted and Birm­ing­ham to North Amer­ica – in­clud­ing Wash­ing­ton, Ne­wark, and Toronto – ear­lier this year.

Flights from Manch­ester to Malaga were due to start later this month.

Most of the air­line's busi­ness in­volved tak­ing Scan­di­na­vian hol­i­day­mak­ers to des­ti­na­tions such as Spain, Greece, Italy, Egypt and Turkey.

Cana­dian An­gela Do­rau was in a queue to board a plane from Paris to Toronto with her hus­band when there was an an­nounce­ment say­ing the flight had been can­celled.

She said: “Ev­ery­body was stranded. Cur­rently my hus­band and I are in a dumpy mo­tel by the air­port try­ing to fran­ti­cally scrounge to­gether the funds to pay for an­other way home.”

They are yet to find an al­ter­na­tive flight home – and she says what was sup­posed to be a bud­get trip looks like cost­ing them an ex­tra €2,000.

The Dan­ish-regis­tered air­line – which started in 2003 as a char­ter provider – is not part of the Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity's ATOL Pro­tec­tion scheme, which cov­ers only pas­sen­gers booked on pack­age hol­i­days.

The reg­u­la­tor has ad­vised pas­sen­gers who have trav­elled on an out­ward Primera flight they will need to make their own ar­range­ments to re­turn to the UK.

Peo­ple who had booked di­rectly with the air­line on fu­ture flights will not be covered ei­ther, the CAA ad­vises.

Pas­sen­gers who paid by credit card may be pro­tected by Sec­tion 75 of the Con­sumer Credit Act 1974 and are ad­vised to check with card is­suers. Sim­i­lar cover may ap­ply if a Visa debit card was used.

The air­line said it had failed to se­cure long-term fi­nanc­ing, mean­ing it had “no choice” but to file for bank­ruptcy.

Primera's de­ci­sion to start com­pet­ing with other low-cost long-haul op­er­a­tors such as Nor­we­gian and Wow ap­pears to have led to its demise.

Signs that the air­line was in trou­ble came in Au­gust, when it said short-haul flights from Birm­ing­ham to seven Euro­pean des­ti­na­tions would end on 3 Septem­ber.

It also blamed the late ar­rival of new air­craft from Air­bus that forced it to can­cel flights and lease planes.

When it be­gan long-haul op­er­a­tions from Stansted in May, Primera was of­fer­ing flights to New York's Ne­wark air­port, Bos­ton, Wash­ing­ton DC and Toronto start­ing at £149 each way.

It had planned to start fly­ing from Madrid to New York, Bos­ton and Toronto next month from €149 each way.

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