The rescue of the airline Plus Ultra by SEPI for a value of 53 million euros has generated controversy by questioning its strategic nature. The figure multiplies by ten the assets of the company , which has about 300 employees and has accumulated losses for a decade.
Several parliamentary groups have asked the Government for explanations but different voices in the Executive have defended the aid. The last to do so was the Vice President of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, who has asked that the aid not be “demonized”. “It is a bit contradictory that we have enormous pressure to give aid to companies and then these things are mounted,” criticized the economic manager before the complaints about the rescue of the airline.
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The Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, has also defended the strategic nature of Plus Ultra and assured this Monday that “if it had not met the requirements, the agreement would not have been reached. However, it should be noted that the conditions stipulated by the regulations on the rescue fund do not include measurable aspects such as financial results or the number of employees.
To access the Fund, the order that regulates the requirements establishes that companies must have a registered office and main operations centers located in Spain. In addition, they cannot be considered “in crisis” as of December 2019, nor have they requested a voluntary bankruptcy or have been declared insolvent. The beneficiary companies must justify that if they do not receive help from SEPI, they would have “serious difficulties to stay in operation.”
In this sense, Plus Ultra must have justified that in the event of an eventual cessation of activities there would be a “high negative impact” on economic activity or employment at the regional or national level; It must also have submitted a medium and long-term viability report and a forecast for the reimbursement of state support.
To obtain public financing through the Fund, the beneficiary companies must be up to date with payments to the Treasury and Social Security and their strategic role must be justified, something that the Government has considered but on which no further data has been provided. in the case of Plus Ultra.
The Government spokesperson, María Jesús Montero, described Plus Ultra as “essential” for the maintenance of the hub at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid Barajas airport. Montero argued that the airline “covers a market niche different from that of competing companies in the sector”, in addition to being Spanish, and “therefore meets the requirements” to receive these aid.
Despite the defense of the ministers, the head of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, José Luis Ábalos, has been less forceful. Ábalos refused on Wednesday to answer questions about Plus Ultra in the Congress of Deputies.
In addition, in relation to the three reports that the Government would have requested to justify the aid , his department denies that the State Agency for Aviation Safety issued “a decisive endorsement”, much less “the decisive endorsement” to promote this rescue. Ministerial sources add that “the Spanish Aviation Safety Agency is an independent agency that regularly, routinely, on demand and independently issues reports related to its strict scope of responsibility, which is exclusively the economic sphere of guaranteeing safety. operational”.