September 12, 2008

XL Leisure Group Goes Bankrupt, Holidaymakers Stranded

Thousands of passengers and holidaymakers are stranded abroad as the UK-based package holiday operator XL Leisure Group has gone bankrupt.

The group, which operates XL Airlines, flies to destinations primarily in the Mediterranean. All its flights have been canceled and aircraft have been grounded. The travel group has blamed the economic downturn and high fuel costs for its going into administration.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said that around 85,000 people could possibly have been left stranded abroad and 200,000 have already made advance bookings with XL.

David Clover, spokesman for the CAA, said: "In respect of people who are currently abroad we are making arrangements and working very closely with the travel industry to organize repatriation flights. Clearly though, with XL Airways no longer operating, we are having to bring in substitute aircraft to bring people home."

Mr Clover also said that customers on packages covered by the CAA's Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (ATOL) scheme will have access to repatriation flights, and those with advance booking will receive their money back. Customers who have booked directly with the airline or through the website will be charged a fee.