Hungarian airline collapse leaves passengers stranded
Hungary’s national airline, Malév, has gone out of business, with all its flights grounded. The airline blamed a “condemning decision” by the European Commission”, which last month ordered the company to repay aid it had received from the government.
The airline has been struggling financially for some time and was being propped up by the government until the Commission ruled that the state aid was illegal. The airline was ordered to repay €300 million it received between 2007 and 2010.
All Malév flights have been grounded, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded across Europe. Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air is offering “rescue package” flights to passengers with Malév tickets for a €60 fee. Two Malév aircraft are at airports outside Hungary, in Tel Aviv and Dublin.
A Commission spokesperson said passengers faced a “difficult weekend” as Spanish airline Spanair also collapsed a week ago. Some passengers with Spanair tickets are still trying to make their way home. She said Hungary and Spain have both promised that passengers will be reimbursed or offered alternative flights.
The Commission said that even though the company has declared bankruptcy, it still owes the money to the Hungarian government. Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister, said the government would consider restarting the airline once its debts have been cleared.
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