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mcbellette

XL Leisure Group

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Some sad news in the newspaper this morning...The biggest airlift in British history began yesterday after the collapse of a package holiday airline that stranded 90,000 customers and left another 200,000 people holding worthless tickets.In a shattering blow for the travel industry, the third biggest tour operator in the UK, XL Leisure Group called in the administrators early Saturday (Sydney time).One XL aircraft at Gatwick Airport was taxiing on the runway preparing to fly summer holidaymakers when its pilots were ordered to return to the bay and disembark.In a statement yesterday, XL chief executive Phil Wyatt said he was "devastated" and blamed rising oil prices for the collapse.He said arranging flights with other airlines for stranded passengers was "the most challenging airlift that anyone has undertaken"."Ultimately I blame myself, I'm the CEO, I take legal responsibility for it", he said."We have made every effort to refinance the principal debt of the group but, despite significant interest, the group was unsuccessful. More recently, record oil prices and a worsening economic environment has meant our economic requirements have increased and our efforts have been overwhelmed."The airline's 1700 staff were out of a job and unsure whether they would receive full pay and entitlements.British football club West Ham United, captained by Australia defender Lucas neill, yesterday played with their sponsor's logo covered after the collapse of XL, which had a $17 million contract with the team.The Civil Aviation Authority and rival airlines were organising the industry's largest ever "airlift" to get the tens of thousands of passengers home from the US, the Caribbean and Mediterranean.Sections of Gatwick airport had to be sectioned off yesterday as thousands of bewildered passengers, many in tears, realised they had lost their flights and the tickets - and in some cases boarding passes they were holding were worthless.Many devastated passengers had similar stories of XL dashing trips of a lifetime, families saving all their money for one last holiday together and a large number of honeymooners looking to start their marriage right.About 90,000 passengers are abroad at the time of the collapse with 67,000 having booked their holidays through XL operators and another 23,000 booked on XL flights through other operators.Air industry analysts have predicted up to 30 airlines will financially crash in the next 12 months. Betting agencies in the UK have Air Berlin as 7/1 favourite to be next followed by Spanish carrier Vueling Airlines just behind at 8/1.


Matthew Bellette

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Hi Matt!Not necessarily sad news...The aircraft will definitely find new homes, and the employees mostly likewise. So perhaps there is something very positive coming from the collapse - the removal of the management structure that proved unable to run the most efficient airline. So quite rightly, it is now up to another set of management somewhere to make a better fist of the operation. That's the great advantage of competition for our purchasing power.Just stirring a little,Regards, Richard


Cheers, Richard

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