UK's XL Leisure Group enters administration

Saturday, September 13, 2008

XL Leisure Group — the United Kingdom's third largest tour operator — has collapsed and entered administration. About 85,000 passengers have been left stranded outside the UK as a result.

The Civil Aviation Authority is working to bring these people home, and Air Travel Organisers' Licensing scheme stated that "repatriation aircraft" had been scrambled. Both flights chartered specially for the purpose and scheduled services with spare seats are being used.

XL operated a number of subsidiaries, including XL Airways, Travel City Direct and the Really Great Holiday company. Including parent company XL Leisure, 11 companies are effected. Their collapse has also left people stranded in UK airports and delayed other flights as airlines who had chartered XL aircraft for their services sought alternative planes.

Passengers booked with XL have been advised to keep away from their departure airports. Refunds will be available for most, but some who booked via XL's website or call center and did not use a credit card or Visa debit card are not able to claim their money back.

Around 50,000 XL package holiday customers and 10,000 other XL Airlines passengers are stranded abroad. 25,000 people booked with other operators who had deals with XL have also been hit, and a total of 200,000 holidaymakers are believed affected. In addition, XL Leisure had 1,700 employees.

XL's CEO Phil Wyatt blamed a combination of himself, high oil prices and economic instability for the problem. He said he was "devastated" and apologised to those affected, but said they were forced to give up after lenders pulled out.