Page last updated at 15:23 GMT, Thursday, 17 December 2009

Flyglobespan collapse strands thousands of passengers

Flyglobespan sign at the airport
Passengers were trying to find out information at Glasgow Airport

An operation is under way to fly back to the UK thousands of people left stranded after Flyglobespan, Scotland's biggest airline, collapsed.

All flights were cancelled after its parent company, Globespan, entered administration on Wednesday.

About 800 jobs are under threat and unions have expressed anger at the plight of employees.

About 4,500 passengers were stranded by the airline's collapse, mostly in Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Egypt.

The Civil Aviation Authority will be repatriating about 1,100 of those stuck overseas.

Administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) said Edinburgh-based Globespan was contacting all the passengers booked with or travelling with the airline.

The Unite union said staff faced a Christmas of misery and uncertainty.

Fiona Farmer, regional officer responsible for Flyglobespan, said: "Many crew are stranded overseas in Europe and beyond, extremely worried about how they will get home and how they will support their families without a wage at Christmas.

"This is truly horrendous for them and their loved ones, which is why we are in urgent discussion with the receivers on this issue."

One senior cabin crew member for Flyglobespan told the BBC he had not yet been contacted by the company.

Glasgow passengers 'devastated' by cancellations

Tom Maguire from Prestwick added: "I'm completely devastated by this news the week before Christmas. I feel totally let down.

"There is nothing on the staff website, we're just hearing things through Facebook. No one has told me that I don't have a job."

Passenger Audrey Duncan from Edinburgh had been due to fly with the airline later.

She said: "I have had no contact from the airline as yet which I find disappointing. I'm sure there are staff who would be able to send an e-mail to customers like me in a very short space of time."

Flyglobespan went into administration after attempts to conclude a financing deal for the airline with Jersey-based Halcyon Investments broke down.

Not protected

In a statement, the administrators said the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) would be responsible for the repatriation of about 1,100 people who were on holidays booked as part of a Globespan package holiday.

However, a further 3,400 people are overseas and are not protected after booking directly through flyglobespan.com.

Customers who booked Flyglobespan flights directly via the Flyglobespan website or the call centre will not get a refund on the cost of their flight but the Department of Transport said they may qualify for a reduced rate repatriation fare.

Bruce Cartwright, of administrators PWC, says 550 staff have been made redundant

Travellers booked on cancelled flights have been advised not to go to the airport and contact the Globespan helpline, or check its website, for information.

Meanwhile, easyJet and Ryanair have offered those passengers affected special "rescue" fares to allow them to return home where their routes overlap with those of Flyglobespan.

And Thomas Cook said it had arranged additional capacity for its flights out of Glasgow Airport.

There are also 27,000 people who have future flights booked through the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (Atol) insurance scheme, and about 90,000 people who have forward bookings but have no Atol protection.

They may be protected under their own personal travel insurance or through their credit card transaction.

Administrators said they planned to investigate why a "significant" amount of cash from credit card bookings did not reach Flyglobespan.

FLYGLOBESPAN FACTS
11 operational aircraft - two on order
1.5m passengers carried in 2008
12,000 flights each year
4,500 passengers currently abroad
More than 100,000 have travel plans booked

Bruce Cartwright, of PWC, said this was not to do with the credit card companies, but the way money reached the airline when online transactions were processed by a company called E-Clear.

He said: "That money goes into a booking site and is then passed to the airline.

"There does in this case seem to have been a significant build-up of cash that has not reached the company."

It is understood Flyglobespan also has a contract with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to transport troops to and from destinations such as the Falklands.

But the MoD said families in the Falklands would not be affected by the collapse as it has organised another airline to bring them back home for Christmas.

Earlier this year, Flyglobespan, which was set up in 2002, announced it had made an operating profit of £1.2m following a loss of £19m the previous year.

However, earlier this year, it pulled its services out of the Durham Tees Valley airport, blaming the worsening economic climate.

Passengers can either call on 0131 466 7612 or on 0141 332 3233.



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