Vueling in hot water as airport chaos shows no sign of abating
After a fourth consecutive day of cancellations of flights operated by the airline Vueling, the Spanish and Catalonian governments decided to intervene.
This was on Sunday when the Spanish airports authority, Aena, which is part of the Fomento ministry, also opened an inquiry to “establish the origin” of the dozens of cancellations and delays affecting flights to and from Barcelona’s El Prat airport, where Vueling, part of the Anglo-Spanish holding IAG, operates its hub.
The problems began on Thursday last week when seven flights failed to take off which was followed by six cancellations on Friday. The situation got worse over the weekend with 12 cancellations on Saturday and 14 on Sunday.
The secretary of state for Infrastructure, Julio Gómez-Pomar said on Sunday: “Not Vueling nor any other company can cause problems for thousands of passengers through bad planning.”
The ministry, to which Vueling executives were called on Tuesday to outline their contingency plan for the rest of the high season (July, August and September), stressed that passengers have the right to claim for damage caused, after which the company is likely to face sanctions.
"The fault lies with Vueling," said the company's commercial director David García on Monday. "We didn't plan well enough before 28 July," he added, referring to the first round of air traffic control strikes in France which made the situation worse, creating a backlog of 56 cancelled flights and 8,000 passengers.
On Monday, though, the disruptions had returned to "normal" levels after the company drafted in six extra planes, 34 pilots and 130 customer service personnel to deal with the chaos at El Prat, where four flights were cancelled and half of flights experienced delays of between 45 minutes and several hours.
However, by Tuesday, the situation deteriorated and another 66 flights were cancelled.
This led to Ana Pastor, acting Minister of Fomento, saying: "The sanctions may not only be economic. This situation could lead to the company losing its permanent licence."
Malaga was one of the airports worst hit by the chaos in Barcelona, along with Paris, Toulouse and Bilbao.
Iberia and Ryanair have also suffered cancellations as a result of the strike in France, while Air France and KLM are experiencing delays.source surinenglish