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Major UK operator closes
Monday, 15 September 2008

THE suspension of UK-based XL Leisure Group's services has shattered the holiday plans of thousands of clients and sent shock waves through the global travel industry.

The group, which is the third largest tour operator in the UK, went into administration late last week, crushing the holiday plans of over 200,000 clients with forward bookings. The 85,000 clients that had already travelled with the group at the time of its collapse can make arrangements with the UK's Civil Aviation Authority to return home, provided they purchased ATOL bonded packages.

It was not clear at the time of going to press if any South Africans travelling from the UK have been affected by XL Leisure's collapse.

The group's failure is the biggest in recent history and sees the suspension of services from several companies under its banner. These include charter airline XL Airways and tour operator brands TravelCity Direct, Kosmar, Aspire, Medlifehotels and Freedom Flights.

The group blamed its downfall on volatile fuel prices, the economic downturn and its failure to obtain emergency funding. A major cash injection is now needed if the group is to claw its way out of debt and resume operations.

Meanwhile, South African retail group XL Travel has been at pains to reassure members and their clients that it is not associated with XL Leisure and is in no way affected by the tour operator's demise.

"The XL Travel Group in South Africa is not affiliated in any way with our UK name sake, other than in name only," stressed XL Travel Chief Operating Officer Rod Rutter.

By : TIR
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