XL Failure UK
CAA release on XL failure
CAA STEPS IN AFTER XL LEISURE GROUP IN THE UK FAILS
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the travel industry are working together to protect customers of the XL Leisure Group UK (XLUK) after it ceased trading. The CAA estimates that there are 50,000 tour operator customers of XLUK abroad, and a further 10,000 abroad with XL Airways, and 25,000 with other tour operators who shared the XL flights. A further 200,000 customers have advance bookings with the XL tour operators.
The CAA will make arrangements for those customers currently abroad who booked their holiday or flight with an ATOL tour operator to complete their holidays and fly home. All future departures with the XLUK tour operators and XL Airlines have been cancelled. Customers due to travel from the UK are advised not to go to their departure airport. Tour operator customers will be able to claim a full refund from ATOL.
ADVICE TO PASSENGERS
Passengers yet to travel:
All future XLUK tour operator holidays are now cancelled and people with advance holiday bookings will not be able to travel. Outbound customers are advised not to go to their departure airport. Customers who booked with tour operators will be able to claim a full refund from ATOL. Information on how to claim is available on the CAA website (www.atol.org.uk).
Passengers currently abroad:
If you booked a package holiday with an XLUK tour operator (see list below) or a flight with Freedom Flights then the Civil Aviation Authority’s ATOL scheme covers you and you will be flown home without needing to pay any money.
If you booked a package holiday or flight through another tour operator and were travelling on an XL flight then the tour operator covers you and you should be flown home without needing to pay any money. Please contact your tour operator.
If you bought only a flight from XL Airways through xl.com or a travel agent, even though you are not covered by the Civil Aviation Authority’s ATOL Scheme, the CAA will endeavour to bring you home with the minimum of delay. However, there will be a fee to cover the cost. You are not obliged to use the CAA arrangements.
Contact information for ATOL customers
· The ATOL website at http://www.atol.org.uk has advice for people abroad and people who have booked holidays with the Group. It will be regularly updated as more information becomes available on new arrangements for inbound flights. People who have booked but are yet to start their holiday should also speak to their travel agent.
· The CAA will be setting up an emergency helpline from 06.00 on 12 September. Customers are asked to check the ATOL website before telephoning because the answers they need are likely to be found there, and to call only if there is an emergency.
· Customers abroad: +44 (0) 2891 856547.
· Customers in the UK with advance bookings: 0870 5900927.
Affected tour operators
XLUK was the UK’s third largest tour operating group and included four UK tour operators, all of which held Air Travel Organisers’ Licences(ATOLs):
The Really Great Holiday Company PLC – ATOL 3827
Which traded as: Cruise City
The Florida Skytrain
Travel City Direct
Travel City International
Freedom Flights Limited – ATOL 5296
Aspire Holidays Limited – ATOL 6536
Kosmar Villa Holidays PLC – ATOL 1760
Which traded as: Kosmar Holidays
XLUK tour operators flew principally from London Gatwick, Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham and Glasgow airports. XLUK arranged holidays in the main holiday resorts of the Mediterranean including Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, as well as the Canaries, Portugal, Malta and Egypt. It also operated long haul holidays in Florida and the Caribbean. The majority of holidays were sold through travel agents.
The CAA is working with the Group’s Administrator, Kroll, major tour operators, including Thomson, First Choice, Thomas Cook and Virgin Holidays, and airlines to ensure that UK customers currently abroad are taken care of. Arrangements will be made to pay hotels and in-resort staff to ensure that holidaymakers that booked with XLUK tour operators can complete their holidays and fly home.
Since XL Airways is no longer operating, flights to bring people home will be made with other airlines. The CAA plans to operate these flights as close as possible to the original schedule and we ask customers to be patient while these arrangements are being made.
People who have made advance payments will be able to claim refunds. The CAA advises customers to see their travel agent and ask whether their booking can be transferred to another holiday. Travel agents and customers will be able to download claim forms from the ATOL website.
The Group’s UK airline, XL Airways (XLA), also sold seats direct to the public. People who booked with the airline are not ATOL protected. An estimated 10,000 passengers are abroad that booked direct with the airline.
Customers with advance bookings paid by credit card should contact their card issuer or contact their bank if they paid by debit card. If they took out travel insurance, they should check whether their policy covered airline insolvency.
The Group also operated separate airlines in France and Germany. XL Airways France (operating under flight numbers starting XLF) and XL Airways Germany (GXL) are unaffected by this failure.
In addition, the Group operated an accommodation agency called Medlife Hotels. People who booked with this company are not ATOL protected. Those with advance bookings paid by credit card should contact their card issuer or contact their bank if they paid by debit card. If they took out travel insurance, they should check whether their policy covered holiday company insolvency.
Further advice is available for XL Airways and Medlife Hotels customers from the Group’s Administrators, Kroll, at http://www.xl.com or by telephone: 0800 068 8991 for customers in the UK; +44 (0) 208 242 4783 for customers abroad.
Richard Jackson, Director of the CAA’s Consumer Protection Group, which is overseeing protection arrangements, said today: “This is a huge undertaking and we are working closely with the travel industry to protect and bring home the customers of the failed tour operators. Hotels and other suppliers will be paid so that those protected by ATOL will be secure while arrangements to fly them home are made. Flights to bring people home will differ from their original timings, but our aim is to minimise disruption to holidaymakers as far as we possibly can. We ask customers to be patient while these arrangements are made.”
For further media information contact the CAA Press Office on 0207 453 6030 and outside office hours on 0207 379 7311.
Notes to Editors:
ATOL (short for Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing) is managed by the CAA and gives comprehensive protection from losing money or being stranded abroad to over 26 million people in the UK who buy air holidays and flights from tour operators each year. It is by far the largest travel protection scheme in the UK, and the only one for flights and air holidays sold by tour operators.
All tour operators selling flights and air holidays must hold a licence from the CAA. If a Licence holder fails, the CAA is responsible for ensuring customers are either repatriated to the UK or receive a refund of payments made.
Repatriation costs and refunds are met by the Air Travel Trust Fund, the funds of which come from a £1 per person contribution, called the ATOL Protection Contribution (APC), each licence holder is required to make when it accepts a booking under its ATOL. In some circumstances a licence holder will have also provided a bond, which is used in the first instance to protect customers.
In the year to March 2008, ATOL enabled over 2,000 customers of failed tour operators to complete their holidays and return to the UK and 21,000 received a refund of advance payments. For the year, total expenditure on repatriations and refunds was £7.5 million.
Further information about ATOL is available on the ATOL website at http://www.atol.org.uk.