The Government prepares a plan of direct aid for Spanish airlines in order to guarantee their liquidity and solvency, which has been greatly damaged by the effects of the coronavirus crisis, as announced this Thursday by the Minister of Transport and Mobility, José Luis Ábalos. “The Ministry of Economy prepares a program of aid of a strategic nature for airlines”, said the minister during his speech at a telematic forum organized by Thinking Heads.
The head of Transportation has assured that the aid plan for the airlines is being articulated “after having spoken with the companies and having evaluated their needs”, and upon verifying that the ICO lines established at the beginning of the crisis “have not been sufficient” .
The Spanish airlines have had financing guaranteed by the ICO for between 1,500 and 1,800 million euros, according to the data provided by the minister. Of this amount, Iberia and Vueling, the Spanish airlines belonging to the IAG consortium, which also includes British Airways, signed two syndicated loans with various banks for 1,010 million euros.
The Spanish airlines, led by Iberia, have already repeatedly warned that they could not survive without aid and have denounced the discrimination posed by the treatment that other European governments are giving their old flag carriers, coming to their rescue with large contributions, such as it has happened in the case of Lufthansa, Air France-KLM or Alitalia. Finally, and as EL PAÍS advanced, the Government seems to comply with these demands and will also inject funds into Spanish airlines.
However, the Transport Minister has not clarified how these “strategic aids” will be instrumentalized, and whether, as has happened in the case of Lufthansa in Germany, they will involve the State entering the capital of the airlines.
In his speech, Ábalos has limited himself to pointing out that this injection of liquidity will be linked to the obligation for companies to return the amount of tickets for canceled flights, “because that is what the European regulation establishes.” “The companies know that they have to pay and that, otherwise, the corresponding claims will be channeled through the Air Safety Agency,” he remarked.
The Airline Association (ALA), which brings together about 80 airlines operating in Spain, assures that, in the absence of knowing the details of the aid plan for airlines finalized by the Ministry of Transport, it trusts that it includes “lines ICO credit facilities that respond to the needs of the airlines and guarantee a sufficient amount and with endorsement conditions that can be minimally close to those of their European competitors ”. “Well, as the Transport Minister himself has recognized, the ICO lines established at the beginning of the crisis have not been enough,” they said from ALA.
Ábalos has also announced, as announced by EL PAÍS, that the Government will delay the process of liberalization of rail transport scheduled for next December, once the French company SNCF has communicated that at least until spring 2021 it will not be in operating condition and that the Italian Trenitalia has not confirmed that it will be able to fulfill its commitment.
“It is evident that it is delayed due to the problems of private operators,” said the minister, who specified that he is not “so clear” that the postponement of the French SNCF “is strictly because of the covid-19”.
The head of Transport has reiterated that Avlo, the AVE low cost of Renfe, which suspended its commercial premiere on April 6 due to the covid-19 crisis, “has no date” for its launch, given that “its characteristics and conditions”, focused on “optimization of spaces, do not they are the most recommended in the current situation of health crisis ”.
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