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Sat, Feb 04, 2012

Over 7,000 Stranded When Malev Airlines Goes Under

Second European Carrier In A Week To Suspend Operations

A second European airline has folded up its tent this week. Hungary-based Malev Airline grounded all its planes Friday, ending a reported 66 years of continuous service. Spain's Spanair entered bankruptcy proceedings and suspended operations last weekend.

USA Today reports that the airline was reportedly teetering on the edge of insolvency for some time, but was pushed over the edge when Tel Aviv airport required it to pay for its fuel and other services in advance. The gounding affected some 7,200 passengers with tickets or in transit.

On its website, Malev tells passengers "Concerning your travel, we suggest that you ask other airlines about their offers or, if possible, you choose an alternative method of transport," and outlines resources customers can take under Hungarian law.

Malev CEO Lorant Limburger said the effect snowballed, with more and more suppliers and partners asking for payments up front. "no company can honor payments months in advance," he said, according to the French news service AFP.

The news service reports that Malev's partners became "jittery" through the month of January as the EC had ordered the airline to repay state incentives it had received from 2007 to 2010. It would have amounted to about $171 million, or it's entire revenue from 2010.

But Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Organ said he is hopeful the airline will be able to fly again. Despite the ongoing European debt crisis, "I believe a restart is not impossible," he said.

FMI: www.malev.com

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