Blue Air Temporarily Suspends Romania Operations, Partners With Regional Startup
Romania’s Blue Air has said it will temporarily suspend flights from the country after accusing the Environment Ministry of blocking access to its bank accounts.
In a statement, the airline said it has been forced to suspend all services scheduled to depart from Romanian airports until Sept. 12. However, planned flights from outside Romania to any airport in Romania will be operated on Sept. 6.
According to data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser, Blue Air was scheduled to offer 78 routes across its network and 92,300 seats during the week commencing Sept. 5. The LCC is the second largest carrier in Romania after Wizz Air, with about 16% of the market.
Around 95% of the airline’s network touches at least one point in Romania, with the remaining 5% of capacity deployed on domestic routes in Italy.
The temporary suspension comes less than two months after Romania’s National Authority for Consumers Protection (ANPC) fined Blue Air €2 million ($2 million) for canceling more than 11,200 flights over a 12-month period between April 30, 2021, and April 30, 2022.
ANPC said the practice of collecting money in promotional campaigns and later canceling flights breached EC Regulation 261/2004. The authority also ruled that Blue Air must refund about €13 million to customers in relation to the canceled flights.
Blue Air disputed the allegations and said it would appeal the decision.
In the statement issued on Sept. 6, Blue Air alleged that comments made by ANPC has led to “significant destruction” of passenger trust in the airline and increased pressure from suppliers. In turn, this has led to the blocking of the company’s bank accounts, the carrier claimed.
Prior to announcing the suspension of flights, Blue Air had detailed plans to enter a codeshare partnership with startup regional carrier Air Connect, which is scheduled to begin operations in October.
Under the terms of the agreement, Blue Air will transfer the operation of selected domestic and international European services to Air Connect.
Commercial control and risk for these routes will remain with Blue Air and it will continue to be responsible for sales, marketing and customer support. However, the ULCC said it expected to achieve potential cost savings and rationalizations in excess of 15-20% as part of the cooperation by deploying the regional aircraft type on the regional and commuter services.
Air Connect is based in Bucharest and will offer flights using ATR 72-600 aircraft, connecting underserved cities in Romania and beyond.
From Oct. 15, the airline plans to launch flights to five destinations from Bucharest (OTP), linking the city with Baia Mare (BAY), Sibiu (SBZ), Suceava (SCV) and Târgu Mureș (TGM) in Romania, as well as Hungary’s capital Budapest (BUD). Service from Cluj-Napoca, Constanƫa, Oradea and Timișoara is also planned.
Air Connect CEO Tudor Constantinescu said: “We are particularly pleased to begin an extended partnership cooperation with Blue Air allowing us to better and more efficiently Air Connect regions. Our passengers would immediately benefit from a larger panel of destinations and better connectivity out of the secondary tier airports in Romania and soon from the abroad.”