French budget airline XL Airways suspends ticket sales

Sep 20, 2019

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Trouble appears to be brewing for French discount airline XL Airways.

The long-haul budget carrier abruptly suspended ticket sales Thursday because of “financial difficulties.”

“Some of our flights may have to be cancelled,” XL warned via its website, though it provided few additional details.

The airline advised customers to “verify their flight’s status” on its website, though links to XL’s flight-status update page took viewers to a screen showing a broken image Thursday afternoon.

XL serves a variety of destinations, many seasonally, from its main base at Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG). Its route map included destinations in France and in French island territories in the Caribbean and Africa.

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The carrier lists a fleet of four aircraft, including three Airbus A330-200s and one Airbus A330-300.

Though XL didn’t specifically say it would halt service, the suspension of sales is an ominous sign.

Still, flight-tracking site FlightRadar24 showed at least two XL Airways flights in the air as of 3:45 p.m. ET on Thursday. XL Flight 40 was en route from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Newark while XL Flight 1451 was bound for Paris from the island territory of Reunion off the coast of Africa.

This screenshot from FlightRadar24.com showed two XL Airways flights in the air on the afternoon of Sept. 19, 2020. (Image courtesy of FlightRadar24.com)
This screenshot from FlightRadar24.com showed two XL Airways flights in the air on the afternoon of Sept. 19, 2019. (Image courtesy of FlightRadar24.com)

The trouble at XL comes after several other European discount airlines have collapsed during the past few years, including WOW Air and Primera. It was just earlier this month that Aigle Azur, another niche French airline, suspended all flights.

The failures come amid broader struggles in the European market, where even larger carriers like Air Berlin — which had become Germany’s second-biggest airline — have failed. Speculation has mounted on other struggling European carriers, such as Norwegian Air, though that airline reported positive news this week on its efforts to pay off debt.

What is next for XL, however, is unclear.

Stay tuned …

Featured image by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images.

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