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Spanair shutdown sparks disruptions

Written By Ivan Kolev on Sunday, January 29, 2012 | 6:56 PM

MADRID – Thousands of passengers faced travel disruptions across Spain Saturday after domestic carrier Spanair canceled all of its flights late Friday night and prepared to file for bankruptcy protection.

The collapse of the Barcelona carrier took place shortly after Qatar Airways walked away from talks to take over the airline after months of negotiations.

"Due to a lack of financial visibility for the coming months, the company has had no option but to cease flying out of a duty of care for the safety of its operation and the well being of all concerned," Spanair said in a statement late Friday. "The appropriate next steps will be taken as soon as possible."

More than 200 Spanair flights have been canceled, affecting more than 22,000 passengers. Public Works Minister Ana Pastor said Saturday the government may slap Spanair with abou t$12 million in fines and cancel its airline license due to the sudden cancellation of flights and failure to assist passengers.

The Public Works Ministry, which supervises the transport sector, said Spanair is required to assist customers and reimburse canceled tickets.

Many affected passengers complained on local television stations that Spanair was struggling to provide flight alternatives or even return the luggage from passengers who checked in shortly before all flights were canceled. A Spanair spokeswoman declined to comment on specific complaints from customers.

"The company would like to apologize to everyone affected by this announcement and thank the aviation authorities for their help and support," as well as other airlines that are assisting affected passengers, Spanair said on Friday night.

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