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Malév airlines, Hungary's national flag carrier, had run up major debts and had failed to find new investment. [File photo] BELA SZANDELSZKY/AP

Dublin passengers left to fend for themselves after Hungarian airline collapses

113 passengers had already checked in for their Malev flight to Budapest flight before being told their airline had collapsed.

OVER 100 airline passengers were forced to make alternative travel arrangements this morning after being stranded in Dublin Airport when Hungary’s flag-carrying airline ceased operations and grounded all flights.

Malev had run up debts of 60 billion Hungarian forints (€205 million) and was unable to find new investors. It stopped all its flights as of 5am this morning.

The airline had a fleet of 22, with two of those planes being stranded abroad – one of them in Dublin.

A spokesperson for the Dublin Airport Authority told that the passengers had all checked in for their flight, which was due to leave Dublin for Budapest at 7:30am this morning, before news of the airline’s collapse had come through.

113 passengers were booked onto this morning’s flight, but all are understood to have either rebooked or to make alternative travel arrangements to get to Budapest.

The airline remains on its stand in Dublin, the DAA spokesperson said, but is being towed to a remote stand this lunchtime in order to allow other income flights to arrive as normal.

Servisair, who were the ground handler for Malev, said it was their understanding that the Hungarian government would directly refund all customers who had booked tickets for Malev flights.

While European law requires airlines to compensate passengers in the event that their flights are delayed or cancelled, Malev passengers had no recourse as their airline had suspended operations.

Malev operated six return flights to Dublin each week, arriving at 9:20pm on Monday-Saturday and departing the following morning at 7:30am.

The collapse of the airline may mean that an unknown number of Irish citizens who had already travelled to Budapest with the airline will now have to make alternative arrangements to get home.

The European Union had last month ordered Malev to repay nearly $400 million in illegal state subsidies received between 2007 and 2010. In 2010, the last year for which data is available, Malev’s losses reached $110 million.

The DAA spokesperson said it had no outstanding debts or obligations from Malev.

Earlier this week the airline was given a Friday deadline to secure a takeover deal from China’s Hainan Airlines company. It is not known whether this deal may still go ahead.

The collapse of Malev comes five days after Spanair ceased operations without warning, leaving 22,000 passengers stranded in airports around Europe.

Additional reporting by AP

Read: Thousands left stranded after Spanish airline collapses >

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