The Civil Aviation Authority has arranged flights home this week for more than 20,000 passengers of failed tour operator XL Leisure Group.


In total 85,000 holidaymakers were in resort when the UK’s third largest travel group collapsed on Friday. Of those, 50,000 holidaymakers were on package holidays organised by the group’s own tour operators; 25,000 were on XL Airways flights as part of package holidays organised by other tour operators; and 10,000 had booked flight-only tickets with XL Airways.


The CAA has so far arranged 94 repatriation flights to carry 22,090 customers home up until September 19. More flights are being organised over the next two weeks for around 30,000 passengers still in resort so they can continue their holiday and fly home as near as possible to their original return date.


All package holiday customers are being repatriated under the ATOL regulations but the CAA said flights seats were also being made available for customers who had booked flight-only.  The CAA is not legally obliged to offer seats for flight-only passengers – who are not protected under financial protection law – but is providing seats at a “reasonable charge”.  There should be enough seats for all 10,000 passengers who booked flight-only, it said.


A spokesman added: “Passengers are not stranded. Some may have experienced a delay to get back but they will all be able to get back if they are fully protected.


“For those not covered by ATOL on flight-only bookings, we have no remit to help these people under ATOL regulations but we are making sure there are flight seats available. We are required to make a charge for that but it will be a reasonable price. It would be illegal to help them for free as we would be using ATOL funds.”


Aircraft are being provided by British Airways, bmi British Midland, First Choice Airways, Jet2.com, Monarch Airlines, Thomsonfly, Virgin Atlantic and other overseas airlines. For more information, go to www.atol.org.uk.


Meanwhile, another tour operator K & S Travel collapsed yesterday. The Turkey package holiday specialist, which also trades under the name Travel Turkey and is based in north London, had around 150 passengers in resort and 400 forward bookings. All holidaymakers will be repatriated.