Thousands of passengers were stranded at Bucharest’s Henri Coanda Airport Wednesday after Romanian low-cost airline Blue Air suspended all operations as it tries to resolve financial issues with the government and regulators.
Romania’s foreign ministry said 620 stranded in the Czech Republic, Cyprus and Spain had asked to be repatriated after Blue Air flights were grounded.
Blue Air primarily blames the Romanian government as well as a consumer watchdog organization for a loss in revenue, which led to lenders asking for prepayments on their services.
“The irresponsible statements and actions of a representative of the Romanian state, as well as the impetuous decision to block all the company’s bank accounts, has forced Blue Air into the undesirable situation of suspending its operations for the next days.” A statement said. The airline started operations in 2004 and is the largest Romanian airline. It operates a fleet of 15 Boeing 737 family aircraft, on domestic and international routes to Europe and Asia.
Following complaints from customers, the the National Authority for Consumer Protection (ANPC) ruled in July that Blue Air had canceled more than 11,000 flights between April 2021 and April 2022 without good reason and without compensating passengers that had paid for their flights.
ANPC imposed a fine of 2 million euros that was due within ten days after the ruling. When Blue Air failed to pay the fine, the Environment Ministry intervened and blocked the airline’s accounts.
Blue Air said on Tuesday that it is unable to pay suppliers and had no other option but to stop flying.
“Due to an unforeseen situation consisting in the seizure of all the accounts of Blue Air by the Environment Ministry for non-payment of a fine, Blue Air aviation airline is obliged, being unable to pay any supplier, to stop all flights scheduled to leave Romania, respectively from Bucharest Otopeni, Bacau, Cluj Napoca and Iasi until Monday, September 12,” the airline said in a statement.
It said that it had lost 5 million euros in ticket revenues.