Spanish airline LTE suspends flights as operating costs soar

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Spanish low-cost airline LTE International became the latest victim of the global financial turmoil yesterday when it stopped flying and suspended all operations because of "world events".

"Due to the financial situation of the company ... it (is) difficult to meet the operational expenses," the company said. "After 20 years operating with maximum dedication to our clients it just was not possible to avoid this situation given world events."

Carriers across the world are suffering from the dual horrors of a fuel cost spike caused by sky-high oil prices earlier in the year, and slowing consumer and business spending in the face of looming recession. LTE is the fourth Spanish carrier to stop flying in recent weeks, adding its name to a global list with more than two dozen names on it including Zoom, from Canada, Silverjet, the UK business-only service, and Oasis in Hong Kong.

Even the big players are not safe. Alitalia had to be rescued by a consortium of Italian businessmen, and British Airways' profits crashed by 90 per cent in the three months to August.

LTE was providing no information yesterday about the impact of the closure on advance reservations.

The company is based in Majorca and operates flights between Spain and Britain, as well as Italy and the Middle East.