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Budget airline ceases operations, leaving passengers stranded and out of pocket

Primera Air has grounded aircraft and cancelled all future bookings

Transatlantic carrier Primera Air has cancelled all flights after filing for bankruptcy overnight, leaving British travellers stranded across North America and Europe.

The low-cost long-haul airline ceased all operations as of midnight on 1 October, but it was still taking bookings and payments from would-be passengers until 5.50pm UK time.

Flights from Stansted to Washington and New York were grounded on Monday evening, while the carrier’s Birmingham flight touched down in Malaga, leaving holidaymakers without return flights from the Spanish city.

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Financial collapse

In an official statement, the beleaguered airline blamed its bankruptcy on severe delays of aircraft delivery which resulted in flight cancellations, loss of revenue and the costly leasing of aircraft from other companies.

The board admitted that Primera had spent over €20 million in recent months borrowing aircraft to fulfil its schedule. The company had also forked out €10 million to rebuild an aircraft blighted by ‘severe corrosion problems’.

Primera announced that it had chosen to cease operations after the summer season to reduce disruption. It said: ‘Weighting the potential losses due to future delivery delays, and the added exposure to our partners and lessors, and bearing in mind the difficult environment that airlines are facing now due to low prices and high fuel costs, we have decided to cease operations now, where it will have a smaller effect on our clients, due to the timing of the year, rather than increasing the exposure.’

What to do if you booked with Primera?

Passengers who booked their airline ticket as part of a package, or booked their hotel and airline with the same provider should contact the agent. In most circumstances they will need to provide you with an alternate flight.

Passengers who booked flights directly with Primera Air will have to make their own arrangements to get home. First check whether any travel insurance that you have covers scheduled airline failure. If not, look for special repatriation fares from other carriers. You may need to phone and tell them you are a Primera customer, and provide evidence of your booking.

If you have an unused Primera ticket you may be able to claim your money back through your card provider.

Find out more about your rights in our advice on what to do if your airline goes bust.

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