7 juin 2023

Daily Impact European

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Blue Air accuses the Romanian state of sabotage, and suspends all flights

Airline Blue Air announced on Tuesday that it will suspend all flights until Monday, September 12, as all of its accounts have been frozen.

Airline Blue Air announced on Tuesday that it will suspend all flights until Monday, September 12, as all of its accounts have been frozen.

According to representatives of the company, the decision to suspend the flights is due to “an unforeseen situation consisting of the suspension of all accounts of Blue Air Aviation SA by the Ministry of the Environment”.

On September 6, just hours before announcing the suspension of its flights, Blue Air also announced that it had entered into a codeshare partnership with Air Connect, a small Romanian airline that only recently began operations. Under the agreement, Blue Air will transfer the operation of certain EU domestic and international regional services to Air Connect.

Blue Air said on Tuesday that it was unable to pay the current costs needed to operate flights, which is why it is forced to stop flights from Romanian airports.

Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă reacted and said the suspension of flights affected around 3,000 people.

“We cannot let Romanians wait in airports,” said the Romanian Prime Minister, who promised to analyze the situation and make a decision with the Minister of the Environment.

For his part, Minister Tanczos Barna said that the blocking of accounts does not justify the immediate suspension of flights and indicated that the Ministry of the Environment does not approve of the decision taken by Blue Air.

“I call on Blue Air to immediately approach the AFM and legally resolve this dispute, and I also demand that it immediately resume all flights and honor its obligations to passengers,” Barna said.

In a statement issued by the Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests, Romanian officials note that the administration of the Environment Fund has blocked the accounts of the company Blue Air due to a debt of more than 28 .7 million lei (6,000 euros) towards the budget of the institution.

“The amount is represented by the non-compliance with the obligation to return the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission certificates linked to the carbon dioxide emissions generated in 2021. In the case of the Blue Air company, these are 54,230 certificates. The deadline for returning GHG certificates expired in May 2022,” said the press release issued by the ministry.

Blue Air said in a statement that it reached this situation after public statements by the president of the National Consumer Protection Authority (ANPC), which discouraged people from buying Blue Air plane tickets. As such, the company recorded significant losses of more than 5 million euros.

Horia Constantinescu, head of the ANPC, did not react to the accusations made by Blue Air.

The airline also revealed that major suppliers have begun to pressure Blue Air to advance the amounts needed to operate daily flights. The company cannot prepay for the operation of flights due to their suspension for the next 6 days.

Also among the unintended effects is the stalling of talks held in London with two investment firms interested in Blue Air shares and supporting the business after two and a half years of losses due to the Covid pandemic.

In July, the Romanian consumer protection authority ANPC Blue-Air paid 2 million euros for the cancellation of more than 11,000 flights over a 12-month period between April 30, 2021 and April 30, 2022. L authority also decided that Blue Air should return to customers within ten days. the RON 66.5 million (EUR 13 million) collected in the respective flight fares. The company said it would challenge the penalty.

Blue Air also has significant debts to the National Bucharest Airport Company (CNAB), but we have taken certain guarantees that we will recover these sums, CNAB spokesman Valentin Iordache said on Tuesday. “Blue Air has debts at the airport, but that was not a reason to cancel these flights. They have accumulated over the past few years and are significant. We have taken certain guarantees, to be sure to collect these debts”, Iordache said, according to Agerpres.

More than 1,000 passengers have not boarded today, so far, after Blue Air announced that from today it will suspend all flights until Monday September 12.

“So far we have seven canceled flights at Blue Air, 1072 passengers remained at the airport, but another seven Blue Air flights are scheduled until the end of the day. Passengers are looking to speak with the agent assistance from Blue Air,” said Valentin Iordache, the representative of Henri Coandă Airport (Otopeni).

The company initially announced that all scheduled flights from outside Romania to any airport in Romania, today September 6, 2022, will be operated according to the published schedule. Otopeni flights to Paris, Stockholm, Lyon, Athens, Palma de Mallorca, Dubrovnik and Cluj are cancelled, as are return flights from these destinations. The same happens at Cluj airport, where Blue Air operates flights to Heraklion, Bucharest and Valencia.

Blue Air airline will suspend flights from Romania from today until Monday, September 12, company officials announced on Tuesday.

“Due to an unforeseen event consisting of the seizure of all the accounts of Blue Air Aviation SA by the Ministry of the Environment, Blue Air is unable to pay the current costs necessary for the operation of daily flights, that is why it is forced to stop all flights scheduled to depart from Romanian airports, until Monday, September 12, 2022,” according to company officials.

The fine imposed by the ANPC does not represent a percentage of turnover since Blue Air did not declare it in 2021.

Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, has announced that from September 6 it will launch special fares for passengers affected by Blue Air’s flight cancellations. Ryanair is seizing the opportunity to generate new sales following Blue Air’s problems. Prices start from 50 euros.

These fares are on sale for travel through October 31, but must be booked by September 9.

“Ryanair is once again saving the day with relief fares from just €49.99 to accommodate customers affected by Blue Air’s sudden ‘suspension’ of operations. As Blue Air ‘suspends’ flights across the Europe, Ryanair continues to operate a full schedule of more than 3,000 daily flights,” said Dara Brady, Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer.​​​​

Other Blue Air, other low-cost companies such as Wizz Air and Ryan Air have been notified by the national agencies of the States where they are registered for having canceled several flights, in defiance of consumer rights. The ANPC advised travelers to avoid buying plane tickets from companies that have canceled several flights in the past.