UK Tour Operator XL Collapses; bmi Offers Special Fares to Passengers

XL Leisure Group PLC, the UK's third-largest tour operator, filed for administration Friday (similar to filing for Chapter 11 in the U.S.) due to escalating fuel prices during a weak economy, leaving thousands of British travelers stranded, the Associated Press reports. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) began helping nearly 50,000 of XL's passengers traveling abroad get home.

XL's costs had risen by more than $80 million per year, according to chief executive, Phil Wyatt. The company was working around the clock in an attempt to secure financial investment to avoid collapse. "Up until 9 p.m. last night there was dialogue with the CAA and individuals were coming forward with money potentially to put into the business," he told a news conference at Gatwick Airport near London.

In response to XL's collapse, bmi is offering special repatriation fares to passengers stranded abroad with flight bookings. The special fares are available to XL passengers returning to the UK from Florida, the Caribbean, Israel, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt until September 30.

Passengers with XL tickets who haven’t yet started their trips can also benefit from special fares to these destinations. bmi is offering ‘better for business’ sale return fares, available until September 30 for travel until March 31, 2009.

The special fares are only available through the bmi reservations center and are subject to availability. To book from the U.S., call 011-44-1332-648181.

XL Leisure's brands included XL Airways UK, Excel Aviation Ltd., Explorer House Ltd., Aspire Holidays Ltd., Freedom Flights Ltd., Freedom Flights (Aviation) Ltd., The Really Great Holiday Company PLC, Meddle Hotels Ltd., Travel City Flights Ltd., and Kosher Villa Holidays PLC. The company offered flights from seven British airports to destinations in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and Florida.

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