Spanish court probes Air Madrid’s collapse

Spain’s National Court said that it has jurisdiction to investigate whether failed airline Air Madrid committed fraud by selling tickets for flights the carrier’s management knew would never take off. In agreeing to accept a complaint filed by the OCU consumers organization, Judge Juan del Olmo instructed the Development Ministry, which oversees the transport industry, to turn over its files on Air Madrid.

The judge also ordered the ministry to inform him of how many tickets the airline sold per day from the beginning of this month through Dec. 15, when the carrier suspended operations without warning, stranding tens of thousands of travelers.

Prosecutors said that the “alleged criminal” misconduct referred to in the OCU complaint “focuses on the sale of plane tickets by Air Madrid with knowledge that the flights were not going to take place.”

In the complaint, which was filed on Dec. 15, the OCU said the airline caused “serious harm to consumers by continuing to offer its services (and) making presumably false statements and assertions without any means of fulfilling the obligations it acquired through the sale of the tickets.”

Given the possible fraud, the OCU urged all Air Madrid customers to keep all documentation that may corroborate the charges.