Poignant testimonies of firemen still under the shock, grieving families of victims, and photographs of the debris of the plane: the Spanish press Thursday exhaustively deals with “the hell of Barajas”, according to the words of the Publico daily newspaper. With insufficient information on the causes of the accident, newspapers question the causes of the fire and the reasons why the pilot asked for a revision before the plane took off.
The Spanish daily El Mundo headlines bluntly: "Spanair crisis leads to a tragedy which claims 153 lives". The newspaper clearly links the financial difficulties of the Spanish airline to the accident. “We lack personnel on board and maintenance personnel. Pilots sometimes work as mechanics," explains Javier Navas, a Spanair pilot and spokesperson for the trade union Sepla. "For example, before taking off, we sometimes have to inspect the exterior of the plane to check that there is nothing abnormal. Normally, maintenance workers do this."
The airline company, controlled by the Scandinavian group SAS, has suffered a 55 million-euro loss during the first semester of 2008, double the losses of last year over the same period. Spanair has just announced it will cut 1,193 jobs.
"[The plane] was serviced a few minutes before the accident," headlines the daily El Pais, who further details its findings - potentially crucial information for the investigation. The Spanair flight JK5022 was supposed to take off at Madrid's Barajas airport at 1:20 p.m. At that time, the aircraft was heading to the runway when the pilot Antonio Luna noticed an anomaly and demanded that the plane be serviced before take-off. The ground personnel worked for 40 minutes on the plane just before the tragic crash. Was the anomaly found by the pilot related to the accident?
According to the Efe wire service, Spanair denies any link between the anomaly and the crash. However, some sources, quoted by El Pais, explain that “the internal thermometers of the plane did not measure the temperature outside correctly". Others say that the pilot had noticed that one of the engines was damaged. The aircraft’s black boxes have been found and investigations have begun, which could take up to several months.