Spanish Justice Suspends Bailout of Plus Ultra, the Airline of Maduro’s Partners

An aircraft of the Spanish airline Plus Ultra. (EFE / EDUARDO CAEVRO / Archive)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, July 21, 2021 — On Thursday a Madrid court suspended as a precautionary measure a loan of 34 million euros from the Spanish Government to the Spanish-Venezuelan airline Plus Ultra, which was part of a bailout of 53 million euros approved last March.

The resolution is a response to the complaint filed by the opposition parties Vox and Partido Popular against the administration of Pedro Sánchez and the State Society of Industrial Participations, in which they alleged that the company did not meet the requirements established in the regulations to receive public aid, because “it is not a strategic company with relevance in its sector nor are its losses caused by Covid-19”.

According to Vozpópuli published at the time, Plus Ultra operates long-distance flights between Spain and Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, and the owners and managers are related to the Maduro government.

The Spanish media outlet recalled that, despite the fact that the company is registered on Spanish soil, 47% of its capital is in Venezuelan hands. For this reason, its strategic nature was in doubt from the beginning “from any perspective.”

Also, the company has accumulated losses since its founding in 2011, according to the digital newspaper based on the Insight View tool. “In 2019, the last financial year before the pandemic, the airline had sales of 63.5 million euros but registered a net loss of 2.11 million,” details Vozpópuli.

The airline Plus Ultra, which began operating in 2015, announced two years later flights from Barcelona to Havana, in a shared code* with the state-owned Cubana de Aviación.

A few months ago, Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, when reporting the dispatch of a health brigade to Gabon, revealed that it was using charter flights from this company to transfer Cuban doctors to their international missions.

The Spanish newspaper ABC later reported this information [April 25, 2021], detailing the ins and outs of the agreement between the airline and the Cuban Ministry of Tourism.

*Translator’s note: Code sharing is a marketing arrangement in which an airline places its designator code on a flight operated by another airline, and sells tickets for that flight.

Tramslated by Tomás A.


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