17 December 2007
MADRID – It was a sad Christmas for Ecuadorians who work in Spain. Thousands of them were unable to fly home for the holidays when Air Madrid suddenly shut down one year ago. Many Spaniards and other travellers also found themselves stranded. including newlyweds whose honeymoon was cancelled, and people who lost their jobs because they didn’t make it back in time.
Some 5,400 passengers were taken to their destinations on flights chartered by the Public Works Ministry, while a few hundred flew on Spanish and Venezuelan army planes. But thousands more were less fortunate, such as Viviana Morales, 25, whose mother had died in May 2006 and whose ashes still remain in Viviana’s room because of economic and bureaucratic problems stemming from the airline shutdown. “I never thought Air Madrid would close because in Spain things are safer than in my country,” she said.
Twelve months later, the 50,000 victims of Air Madrid – mostly immigrants who had saved one euro at a time for months to buy their airfare – have yet to be reimbursed. They have been caught up in a legal morass and the case is stuck in a Madrid court. Legal experts cannot yet say how many people will be entitled to refunds, and in any case that will not happen for another year.
But if the company’s main creditors do not accept the terms being offered (50 percent of their money back and full airfare refunds for passengers), none of the latter will see a cent.
[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ LARA OTERO 2007]
Subject: Spanish news