XL Airways is no more. The Bobigny Commercial Court has given its decision on the future of the airline. The offer submitted by Gérard Houa was not accepted. The company was simply liquidated.


This bankruptcy, like that of Thomas Cook or Aigle Azur, plunges tourism professionals into uncertainty. They damage the entire profession, further weaken the already criticized air sector from an economic point of view and a call is made for the creation of an air guarantee fund.


In Spain, for example, nearly 500 hotels will close due to the bankruptcy of British tour operator Thomas Cook. We can mention this establishment in Fuerteventura (Canary Islands) which has 700 “empty” rooms from 7 October and 200 employees who will have to be dismissed.


Thomas Cook was the second largest tour operator in Spain, where its airlines carried 7.3 million tourists in 2018.


As Le Parisien newspaper explains: “Many Spanish establishments, very dependent on the British tour operator, are in danger of closing down. In France, the different model protects us from such a slaughter.”


It should not be denied that low-cost airlines such as Ryanair or EasyJet have had an influence on consumers. More and more of them book a cheap flight ticket and make a hotel reservation. Finding transfers, excursions, has become child’s play. These low-cost companies also offer these products on their websites. In addition, some generalist sites such as Expedia or Booking.com also offer all the products.


However, digitisation for Thomas Cook was a fiasco: a major tour operator cannot survive today without a multi-channel strategy and it is necessary to address the viability of selling only package travel.


The main question then is whether holidaymakers can leave with a free mind?


To quote the president of FRAM-Promovacances, leader of the second largest French tourism group, in an article published in laquotidienne.fr. “Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy leaves a significant debt, which should mainly impact hotels and bus companies, but the ecosystem of tour operators is not in question“. In France, in the event of a tour operator’s failure, a guarantee fund takes over. A European directive thus obliges tour operators to take out insurance to cover the return of customers, but also to refund deposits if the stay has not yet taken place. It should be noted that this insurance does not apply in the event of the purchase of an air-only flight, i.e. directly from the airline. In this situation, in the event of bankruptcy, and as was the case for XL Airways’ customers, tickets are generally lost and will not be refunded. Another point of caution: purchases made on hotel platforms, such as Booking or Expedia, are also not covered by this guarantee fund.

In France, the sector generates five billion euros in turnover and 2.8 million jobs every year.


Sources: Le Monde.fr, Les Echos, laquotidienne.fr, Bfmtv

Photo credits: Artheau Aviation