Andalus put the brakes on their Gibraltar flights

by PANORAMA reporter
The Andalus airline are to stop flying on the Gibraltar route until April 19, it was said in travel circles yesterday. But there are fears that the airline may not fly to Gibraltar again, amid reports that they are owing large sums of money.

The airline have two aircraft on lease, but sources said that they were not paying the fees due. This resulted in lawyers representing the aircraft owners arriving at the airport armed with an injunction. But the airline is said to have flown away in the nick of time.

Yesterday morning, however, it did not return to Gibraltar, with 14 pasengers having to be sent to Malaga by coach.

Reports in airline circles said that the airline had said that the flights had been postponed for operational reasons. Earlier it was being said that one of their aircraft had developed technical problems.

Travel sources were saying last night that travel agents had stopped selling tickets for the airline.

Figures released by the Gibraltar government show that the airline is behind in payment of departure tax and landing fees. It is believed this totals over 100,000.

During another hiccup recently the Government ended up providing 50,000 in marketing fees to promote the Madrid to Gibraltar route.

Earlier this month, the GSLP/Liberal Opposition said the Government was refusing to supply precise information on the amounts due by Andalus airlines in respect of landing charges and passenger tax.

They said they had a particular interest in monitoring the performance of Andalus given that there is public money indirectly involved in the operation - pointing at landing charges, the passenger tax, the 50,000 marketing subsidy, free overnight parking for the aircraft and the use of the airport bus to ferry passengers to and from La Linea.(Last night they issued a statement on the airport bus, see page 3).

Andalus has denied a report in the New People, but the paper said today: "Air Andalus has denied that their precarious financial position is such that it could disappear overnight. It has not, however, denied that it has financial difficulties or that it owes a substantial amount of money to the company that leases out to them two of the three aircraft they use in their flight operations."