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The San Francisco Chronicle wants you to know that everything is alright with the airline industry. U.S.-based airlines are turning profits, and US Airways' President even says there's zero evidence of "macroeconomic weakness" to be found.
That will be news to Spanair,, which collapsed so fast on Friday that it left 20,000 travelers stranded with no return flights home (the good press they got from giving passengers Christmas presents failed to stem the tide of millions and millions in losses). Spanair's shuttering follows the closing of Spain's Air Comet, whose flight attendants subsequently had to do nude photo shoots just to draw attention to the €7 million in unpaid wages they were owed.
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Let this be an lesson for you about the subtle differences between stodgy British sensibilities and hotblooded Mediterranean thinking. When British Airways cabin crews gamed out how to deal with a wage dispute, they tried to strike, failed to strike, tried to strike again, managed to strike, and ended up alienating pretty much everyone. When flight attendants from the now-defunct Spanish Air Comet wanted to call attention to how the airline owes them eight or nine months of back pay, they took off all their clothes, had themselves photographed as part of a racy calendar picture shoot, and made sure that their images got splashed all over Spanish newspapers and television. The Spanish public, by all reports, has proven significantly more sympathetic to the cabin crews' plight.
Apparently Air Comet hasn't paid its workers something like €7 million, but that's a small sum compared to the total €160 million the airline owes to various creditors. Fearing that they would never see a Euro without public help, nine stewardesses decided to bare all in the airplane-themed calender. There are shots of them walking the aisles dressed only in hats and smiles, multiple pictures taken inside a cockpit, and at least two photos involving jet engines.
Your holiday air travel may have been a little difficult, but at least your airline is likely still in business for your trip back home. That’s not the case for many unlucky passengers that were counting on Spain’s Air Comet to fly them back from holiday trips. The airline shut things down last week, stranding passengers and providing pink slips to more than 600 employees. The whole problem started because the airline kind of didn’t pay the bills for its leased airplanes—oops!
The airline primarily flew to Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, and other countries in the region to and from Madrid. That means there were passengers stuck all over the place. Thankfully, charter flights were provided to help out the stranded passengers, but at first only about half of the travelers got the chance to get out of the airport. Hopefully a few more private planes will be shuttled back and forth to get the remaining passengers where they need to be so they can at least welcome 2010 without too much stress. We really feel for the stranded passengers and wish them luck with this whole ordeal.