Budget airline XL Airways stops ticket sales, cites financial issues

PARIS (Reuters) - French budget airline XL Airways said it had suspended ticket sales due to financial difficulties at the company, in the latest example of low-cost airlines running into financial problems.

“XL Airways, in major financial difficulty, is unfortunately obliged to stop ticket sales as from September 19,” it said on its website, adding that flights could be cancelled from September 23 onwards even though it hoped to run this weekend’s scheduled flights.

XL Airways’ woes follow similar issues at French airline Aigle Azur. Aigle Azur’s unfolding bankruptcy is the latest among smaller European airlines struggling to contend with higher fuel costs and stiff low-cost competition.

The French government - which has been helping XL Airways try to find new investors - said in a statement that the airline had stopped payments on Thursday evening and that it would go into receivership on Friday.

“The state will help find a solution that protects jobs and insures the continued economic activity of the company,” junior transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said in a statement.

XL Airlines operated four Airbus A330 aircraft and provided mainly long-haul flights to the Caribbean, the United States and France’s Reunion island.

Reporting by Geert de Clercq; Editing by Christian Lowe