MADRID – The Spanish state could lose more than €1 billion that it has provided in the form of a loan to the four airlines Air Europa, Volotea, Air Nostrum and Plus Ultra. The companies were thus protected from possible bankruptcy.
That was after the crisis in the travel sector caused by COVID-19. Now, it has been confirmed that the four rescued companies have suffered multimillion-dollar losses and there is uncertainty about their recovery. Therefore, the return of the money to the Spanish treasury from the airlines is increasingly remote.
In 2020, the national government provided €740 million to the four airlines through the Solvency Support Fund for Strategic Companies. In addition, more than €350 million was added through loans guaranteed by the Official Credit Institute (ICO). The pledged amount would therefore amount to approximately €1.1 billion. The bulk of this should be repaid between 2028 and 2029, under the terms set out in the rules of both funds.
Air Europa is the airline that received the most government money as a loan. Aid worth €475 million was granted from the fund of strategic companies, with a term until 2026. In addition, this airline must also return the first package of government support that it received at the start of the pandemic in the form of an ICO credit of €140 million. However, Air Europa posted a net loss of 304.3 million in 2021.
Plus Ultra booked a loss of €20 million in 2020 and went into dissolution with a negative capital of more than €14 million. Although Plus Ultra has not presented the accounts for the past fiscal year, the company is not expected to make a profit. This airline flies from Madrid to various countries in South America, including Peru, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
In the 2021 financial year, Volotea lost €77.9 million and €122 million in 2020. Despite growth momentum, it had negative net assets of €142.2 million as of December 31. Volotea is based in Barcelona and flies to Morocco, Germany, Denmark, Croatia, Bulgaria and Austria.
The regional airline lost €7.3 million in 2021, 95% less than the €140 million gap it suffered in 2020. However, the newspaper El País confirms that the Spanish company has postponed the payment of several credits. They now want to pay these in 2028. As of January 31, 2021, they had negative capital of more than €14 million. Air Nostrum’s base is in Valencia, with flights going to Algeria, Morocco, Germany, Italy, Portugal, France and Switzerland.