- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 12, 2004

DUBLIN (AP) — A new Irish airline offering flights for 1 euro — about $1.19 — shut down services yesterday after a week’s operation, stranding hundreds of passengers in Spain.

In a brief statement, JetGreen Airways apologized to customers for closing without warning but said it would not repay any of the more than 40,000 people who had bought tickets, including more than 400 people expecting to fly home yesterday from their Spanish holidays.

The airline advised customers to seek compensation instead from their own travel insurance company or, if they had no policy, from Ireland’s aviation regulators.

But travel agents, politicians and business rivals criticized regulators for granting JetGreen a tour operator’s license in the first place.

“The regulators who gave these people a license have completely failed in their duty,” said Michael Cawley, chief operating officer of Ryanair, Ireland’s dominant no-frills carrier.

For months, JetGreen had published front-page newspaper ads touting its slogan, “Fly the Difference!” and promising “all the frills of yesteryear, delivered at the value people expect today.”

On May 4, it began daily service between Dublin and the southern Spanish cities of Malaga and Alicante, wooing customers with promotions that included one-way tickets for as little as 1 euro, including all fees and taxes.

It planned to add daily routes to Rome, the southern French port of Nice, and the southern Portuguese resort city of Faro next month, and had been negotiating with Aer Rianta, the state-owned operator of airports in Ireland, for more landing slots at Dublin Airport.

The only JetGreen aircraft, a Boeing 757, was left parked yesterday morning on the tarmac of Dublin Airport.

For the previous seven days, the plane had been used to carry passengers first from Dublin to Malaga, then back to Dublin, then to Alicante, and back to Dublin again in the evening.

It was the second collapse of an Irish-based airline this year. In January, a small carrier called JetMagic ended its services from the southwest Irish city of Cork after less than a year.

Opposition politicians appealed yesterday to the government to tighten rules governing the bonding of no-frills airlines, which usually bypass travel agents in favor of direct sales on the Internet.

“Traditionally, people booked their airline tickets through a travel agent and were covered by the operator’s own bond. This would normally ensure the safe return of passengers,” said Denis Naughten, transport spokesman for the opposition Fine Gael Party.

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