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Business & Finance

Spat in Spain over bailout of tiny Venezuela-linked airline

  • The money came from a 10-billion-euro rescue fund created by the government of Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to help strategically important firms hit hardest by the pandemic.
Updated 08 Apr, 2021

MADRID: A multi-million-euro rescue of a tiny airline with just four planes has sparked controversy in Spain, with its leftwing government under fire for extending special treatment to the Venezuela-linked firm.

The row is over a 53-million-euro ($62 million) government bailout extended in early March to Ultra Plus, an obscure airline that links Spain with Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.

The money came from a 10-billion-euro rescue fund created by the government of Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to help strategically important firms hit hardest by the pandemic.

But the move drew a sharp rebuke from Spain's right-wing opposition, which regularly attacks the government over its stance on Venezuela, notably accusing hard-left coalition partner Podemos of being funded by Caracas.

"It's a scandal that's growing by the day and the government is offering no explanation," said Antonio Gonzalez Terol, a lawmaker with the right-wing Popular Party which wants a parliamentary inquiry into the matter.

The liberal Ciudadanos has also urged the European Commission to open an inquiry, while the far-right Vox has filed a complaint with the Supreme Court.

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