Ryanair rushes to add 26 routes as Malev collapses
THE Irish arm of the ground-handling firm Servisair surrounded Hungarian flag carrier Malev's aircraft at Dublin airport yesterday.
Servisair is understood to be owed a significant amount of money from the collapsed airline. At least four of Servisair's vehicles were strategically placed around the Boeing 737 aircraft within hours of the national airline going bust.
Aircraft maintenance firm Dublin Aerospace has been engaged by the owner of the Malev aircraft, Los Angeles-based leasing firm IFLC, to secure possession of the property on its behalf.
The aircraft, which had been due to fly from Dublin to Budapest yesterday at 7.30am with 113 passengers, was due to be moved by Dublin Aerospace to a disused runway at Dublin Airport last night. It is thought that the Dublin Airport Authority isn't owed any significant amount of money by Malev.
As a result of the Malev collapse, Ryanair immediately announced 26 new routes from Budapest in a move to capitalise on the grounding of Hungarian airline Malev over unpaid debts.
Ryanair, who last month announced plans to fly five routes from Budapest, has increased that to 31, most of which will be operating by April, the company said in a statement. It said it will base four aircraft at Budapest and carry up to two million passengers per year. Ryanair undoubtedly had a battleplan already in place as it's been clear that Malev, which was 95pc government-owned, was poised to fail.
The Hungarian national airline, founded in 1946, has been suffering amid the economic downturn and losing a substantial amount of money. It employs about 2,600 people.
The government had been shoring it up financially but last month the European Commission ordered that the airline pay back about €341m of state aid it received between 2007 and 2010. The airline also had debts of about €200m.
Early yesterday morning, the Hungarian government ordered that all Malev aircraft be grounded. Only two of its fleet were outside Hungary at the time -- the aircraft in Dublin and another in Tel Aviv, Israel.
It's the second time in a week that Ryanair has been able to capitalise on the collapse of another European airline. Earlier this week it rushed to boost its presence in Barcelona after Spanish airline Spanair went bust. It was the country's fourth-biggest carrier. Ryanair is its biggest.
Ryanair deputy chief executive Michael Cawley was dispatched to Barcelona at the last minute this week to launch a special "rescue fare".
He was also sent to Budapest to liaise with representatives of the Hungarian government and Budapest's Liszt Ferenc airport to advance the plans for Ryanair's base there. The Irish carrier will serve destinations such as Dublin, Stansted, Rome, Milan, Madrid and Oslo.