It hasn’t been a great week in European aviation. Spanair, a Star Alliance carrier based in Barcelona, suddenly collapsed and ceased operations last Sunday leaving many passengers seeking for alternate transportation options. Today, the Hungarian airline Malev, member of the Oneworld alliance, has filed for bankruptcy protection. Unlike the Spanair, the airline continues to fly its scheduled flights, at least for now.
Hungary had paid illegal subsidies to keep Malev solvent, and European Union ruled on January 9th that the airline needs to pay back this unlawful state aid. The amount that the airline was supposed to pay back equaled to its total revenue of 2010. According to the airline, they have adequate resources to keep flying for the next 30 days under normal circumstances. If suppliers are starting to require cash payments or guarantees, the cash on hand might be gone much sooner.
I have flown Malev couple of times as a part of Oneworld ticket issued by American Airlines. Last time I flew with them out of Beirut and on to Helsinki via few days in Budapest. The business class was typical for European airlines, but what was fascinating were the sausage based dishes that I had on both of the fights. They were bit unusual.
Do you have flights on Malev coming up? Do you have tickets issued on Malev’s 182 ticket stock?
For the time being, things are as normal as they can be when an airline is under bankruptcy protection. It is highly unlikely that government would pony up more money after Malev just got an order from the European Union to pay back the illegal state aid that the airline had received.
If your Malev flights are issued on other airlines ticket stock, you may need to contact the issuing airline to find alternate options in a case that the flights are not operating, or the carrier is suddenly shut down. Your money is safe, however.
If your ticket is issued on Malev’s ticket stock and involves other carriers, the business is as usual for now. US carriers United Airlines and US Airways just confirmed that they are honoring all Spanair tickets that involve flying on these two airlines. Same might hold true to Malev’s Oneworld alliance and other partners, if the carrier goes down.
For the time being, I would only continue buying flights involving Malev for a week or two out. And if you do, make sure that you are paying using a credit card, that will protect you in a case that the airline stop operating.