Second French airline in a month is declared insolvent

A French court on Friday ordered the closure of long haul low cost airline XL Airways after it declared insolvency - the second carrier in France within a month to be wound up.

Second French airline in a month is declared insolvent
Photo: AFP

The commercial court in Bobigny outside Paris rejected the sole offer for the carrier and ordered that it be placed in judicial liquidation. Its 570 staff will now lose their jobs. 

XL Airways had on September 30th halted all flights and had struggled to attract bids after being placed into receivership. Flag carrier Air France, which dominates the French market, said it was not interested.

XL operates four Airbus jets serving mainly cities in North America, and some destinations in China, and had around 730,000 passengers last year.

Its chief executive Laurent Magnin blamed in particular competition from its low-cost rival Norwegian in the US market for its financial troubles.

The airline's plight comes after France's second-largest airline, Aigle Azur, was shut down by a court on September 27th after also failing to secure any takeover offers.

Aigle Azur operated 11 planes serving mainly Algeria, and had posted years of heavy losses despite transporting around 1.9 million passengers last year.

The offer for XL rejected by the Bobigny court was by Gerard Houa, a minority shareholder in Aigle Azur, who had made a €30 million bid which he said would have preserved half of XL's jobs.

Analysts say that the aviation sector in Europe remains fragile, with low fare wars squeezing out the weaker players.

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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.