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FLIGHT

All flights to be grounded on Friday night on collapsed French airline

France's second-largest airline Aigle Azur, which went into receivership this week, plans to cancel all flights starting Friday night as it seeks a takeover bid to save the company, according to an internal document seen by AFP on Thursday.

All flights to be grounded on Friday night on collapsed French airline
Photo: AFP

Aigle Azur had warned earlier that some flights would be halted and all ticket sales suspended from September 10th, the day following a deadline for submitting bids to acquire the airline.

“The company's financial situation and the resulting operational difficulties do not allow us to ensure flights after the evening of September 6th,” according to a statement addressed to employees.

“If you take a flight after September 6th, 2019, whatever the airport of departure this flight is cancelled. You will have to buy another return ticket,” the carrier said.

Aigle Azul, which said it would run 44 flights on Friday, mainly to Algeria, urged affected passengers to check on their existing insurance – notably via their credit card provider – for reimbursement.

It also told travellers who had booked through a travel agency to approach them for advice on the redress they were entitled to.

It said the company had been “forced to resort” to an “unfortunate option that puts out clients, our teams and our partners in great difficulty.”

“The search for takeover offers is continuing actively,” it added.

The airline had initially pledged to maintain operations after filing for bankruptcy protection on Monday, following years of losing millions of euros.

The move came after a shareholder coup ousted chief executive Frantz Yvelin last week, accusing him of making “strategic mistakes over the past two years.”

Destinations in Algeria make up half of Aigle Azur's operations, and the company posted revenues of €300 million last year after transporting some 1.9 million passengers.

But it wasn't enough to stem heavy losses that last month prompted the airline to announce plans to sell its Portugal routes to low-cost rival Vueling.

Its shareholders are now hoping for a white-knight offer for the airline and its 1,150 employees, including some 350 based in Algeria.

The largest shareholder in Aigle Azur is the Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, which owns Hainan Airlines, with a 49 percent stake.

David Neeleman, an American airline entrepreneur whose companies include JetBlue and TAP Air Portugal, owns 32 percent, and French businessman Gerard Houa owns 19 percent.

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FLIGHT

French plane passengers delayed for 29 hours block another flight

Angry passengers at Bordeaux airport decided to prevent another flight from taking off to their destination before they did.

French plane passengers delayed for 29 hours block another flight
Photo: AFP

Here’s a news story that illustrates why it’s never a good idea to mess with people’s holidays. 

Passengers scheduled to fly from Bordeaux to the Spanish holiday island of Majorca on a 6.15 Saturday morning flight were left feeling bitterly disappointed by a nine-hour delay announced to them only once they’d arrived at the airport in southwest France.

But by the time 3pm came around, ground staff for Spanish low-cost airline Volotea told the frustrated holidaymakers that their downed aircraft’s technical fault had still not been fixed.

Volotea’s crew postponed boarding for an hour, then two and eventually told passengers to turn in for the night and return the next morning, French daily 20 Minutes reported.

And so they did, begrudgingly, only to realize when checking in the following day that there were two queues for the same flight: one for Saturday’s flight to Palma de Majorca and one for Sunday’s.

A few inquisitive looks from the waiting area onto the runway confirm among the disgruntled tourist mob that there is only one Volotea plane and not two. 

By the time boarding is due, 26 hours after their original scheduled departure, a heated argument breaks out among Saturday’s Volotea passengers, who physically block Sunday’s fliers from heading through the final gate check to the aircraft. 

 

 

Airport gendarme police are called in to intervene as both sets of holidaymakers argue over who’s at fault.

Eventually the delayed travellers’ complaints are heard by Volotea, who put an end to the uproar by announcing the departure, three hours later, of an additional plane to Majorca.

 

 

And so at 11:30am on Sunday, a mere 29 hours later, Volotea’s Saturday passengers finally set off into the sun.

Fingers crossed their luggage wasn’t lost.
 

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