XL Airways suspends flights; France points finger at Norwegian

Soos Jozsef

XL Airways have announced that the airline so far has been unable to grab the attention of an investor. As a result, XL will temporarily suspend its operations for the time being, as it tries to sort out the situation. Meanwhile, the French Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, has found the reason why XL Airways failed, pointing to Norwegian Air Shuttle and the government of Norway for providing illegal state aid.

On September 19, 2019, XL Airways announced that it would stop selling tickets and will cancel some flights as the long-haul low-cost carrier entered a period of financial turbulence. Unfortunately, it seems like the French airline was unable to steer clear and is suspending its operations effective September 30, 2019, until October 3, 2019. Passengers who were booked to travel with XL Airways are advised either to search for alternative travel arrangements or contact their travel insurer or credit card issuer regarding a refund.

However, an unlikely villain appeared in the XL Airways narrative – Norwegian Air Shuttle, another low-cost long-haul airline. Le Maire has publicly stated that Norway provides funding towards Norwegian, something that Le Maire “cannot accept”, as the public funds create unfair competition for everyone involved.

As a result, he will appeal to the European Commission to fix the ordeal, while XL Airways has temporarily suspended its operations as the airline looks for a savior. XL Airways’ hopes are fairly slim, as several airlines in Europe are on the verge of bankruptcy and are also looking for potential investors, including another French airline, Aigle Azur, which at one point in time had 14 takeover offer, but the court rejected all potential bids for the airline.

In addition, the way XL Airways operated was quite complex, which might have contributed to the fact that the airline cannot sustain its operations anymore, rather than unfair subsidies from other governments. Intense competition, the small scale of the airline (it operated only four Airbus A330 jets for the past few years) and inability to properly operate under a low-cost model have all contributed to the fact that the airline is currently scrambling for investors.


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