Airline folds as bills unpaid

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HUNGARIAN flag-carrier Malev ceased operating early yesterday after its planes were held overseas for unpaid debts, leaving a gap in the market that low-cost competitors were quick to exploit.

Several budget carriers, including Ireland’s Ryanair and Air Berlin, announced an immediate increase in their flights from Budapest airport, where state-controlled Malev provided 40 per cent of revenue.

Prime minister Viktor Orban said that the decision to ground Malev, which ends 66 years of almost continuous service, was made after two aircraft were not allowed to take off from Israel and Ireland. Malev said its suppliers had lost confidence and started to demand advance payment for their services.