EasyJet ‘among bidders’ for collapsed French carrier

EasyJet is reportedly interest in collapsed French carrier Aigle Azur’s operations at Paris Orly airport.

Aigle Azur filed for bankruptcy and suspended flights last week, leaving almost 20,000 of passengers stranded.

The carrier, which employed almost 1,200 staff, collapsed after heavy losses prompted a shareholder coup that ousted the chief executive.

Potential buyers had until midday on Monday to present their offers.

A spokesperson for Air France confirmed rumours of a bid, without giving further details.

Aigle Azur specialised in routes to Africa and was once the second largest French airline after Air France with a 48% stake held by Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, owner of Hainan Airlines amongst others.

US airline entrepreneur David Neeleman, whose interests include JetBlue, owned 32% and French businessman Gerard Houa 19%.

Aigle Azur’s issues with low fare competition and high fuel costs  were compounded by the privately held carrier’s over-expansion from medium-haul services focused on Algeria into long-haul destinations such as Brazil.

Local reports indicated that several potential buyers had been identified, with some 13,000 passengers, mainly booked on Aigle Azur flights to and from Algeria, still stranded.

French junior transport secretary Jean-Baptiste Djebbari told Le Parisien daily: “There needs to be a serious buyer who is capable of offering guarantees for a maximum number of employees.

“The good news is that many [potential buyers] have expressed interest.”

Djebbari said the former chief executive of Air France subsidiary Hop!, Lionel Guerin, was also among interested parties, backed by a team of aviation professionals with financial support.

Air France confirmed that it was “closely monitoring” the situation of Aigle Azur’s customers and laid on an extra flights to and from Algiers and Paris.

“We have increased our seat offer to and from Algiers with larger capacity aircraft, but also with 14 additional flights.

“Since Friday, we have provided more than 3,500 additional seats to and from Algiers and Bamako [capital of Mali].” Air France said.

“We are also studying all possibilities to adapt our flight schedule to and from the destinations affected by this shutdown.

“In addition, to encourage passengers to return, we have introduced special fares for customers with an Aigle Azur ticket whose Aigle Azur flight has been cancelled.”

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