London: Britain’s third largest tour operator grounded all its flights on Friday, stranding tens of thousands of holidaymakers, as soaring fuel costs and the credit crunch left it on the brink of bankruptcy.
XL Leisure Group trades under a host of names, including Travel City Flights.
“The companies entered into administration having suffered as a result of volatile fuel prices, the economic downturn, and were unable to obtain further funding,” XL said in a statement after failing to secure a multi-million-pound rescue package.
Administrators have been called in to see whether the company can be saved from total bankruptcy.
Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the XL collapse was probably the biggest holiday operator failure for 20 years. The company had operated flights to more than 50 destinations in Europe, the United States and Africa.
The CAA said it would bring back people already on holiday who had been left without return flights.
Customers queuing at XL’s main departure point for package holidays, London’s Gatwick Airport, faced a struggle to snap up tickets for alternative flights to salvage their holidays, although some just gave up and went home.
Many had no idea of XL’s collapse until they were informed by airport officials.