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Futura Gael

Dublin-based airline suspends flights  Sep 08, 2008

70 employees of the Irish arm of charter airline Futura International Airways have been temporarily laid off after the company's decision to seek bankruptcy protection in a Spanish court.

A further 20 employees have been put on notice.

The move, which has been blamed on rising oil prices, has thrown the travel plans of thousands of Irish holiday makers into doubt.

Futura Gael says it has suspended all flights, but cannot say for how long.

The airline, which is owned by the Futura International Airways group based in Mallorca, operated charter flights to the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe.

Futura International Airways was founded in 1989 by Aer Lingus, but Aer Lingus sold off its majority stake in 2002, and its last 20% in October.

The Irish-based subsidiary employs 90 people at its Dublin offices and on its aircraft.

Tour operators seeking alternate planes

A spokesman for the company said it is looking for an investor with a view to resuming operations in the future.

He could not say how many passengers had been affected.

He confirmed there are some Irish people stranded abroad, but said tour operators should be in a position to fly them home.

Last night, a Futura plane bound for Malaga was delayed at Dublin Airport for nearly three hours before it finally took off just before 10pm.

The airline officially ceased operations at midnight.

The Commission for Aviation Regulation says there is nothing that it can do for any passengers who might be affected by the airline's closure.

Unlike tour operators, airlines do not have to lodge a bond with the commission to cover refunds and repatriation.

Panorama, Sunworld and Direct Holidays have confirmed that they had planned to operate flights with Futura this weekend to a number of destinations and are sourcing alternative aircraft.

Budget Travel is also securing alternative aircraft for its planned flights.

Falcon Holidays says it has organised a replacement aircraft to pick up the passengers that were due to fly on three Futura Gael flights from Cork, Shannon and Dublin to Spain today.

Dublin-based airline suspends flights

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