Kiss Flights has ceased trading with tens of thousands of holidaymakers abroad and many more advance bookings, placing fresh strain on consumer financial protection.
Kiss held an air tour organiser’s licence (Atol) for up to 170,000 passengers, but it is unclear how many clients are covered by the licence. CAA licensing figures suggest up to 69,500 passengers could be booked to travel in September.
A message posted on Kiss owner Flight Options’ website says, “As of 1700 hours on 17 August the Flight Options group of companies has ceased trading. The Civil Aviation Authority have been informed and we are awaiting further advise [sic] on the situation.”
Flight Options boss Gary Ash told Travel Weekly he is ‘devastated’ at the company’s failure, blaming the combination of April’s volcanic ash crisis, the failure of Goldtrail, late booking trends and ‘negative publicity’.
Seat-only operator Kiss launched in September 2008 following XL Leisure Group’s collapse with the intention of targeting the market vacated by Freedom Flights – XL’s former seat-only operation.
It is understood Kiss picked up a large number of bookings from the collapse of Goldtrail.
Former Freedom Flights managing director Paul Moss joined the seat-only operator in 2008.
The collapse of XL Leisure exposed holes in the licensing system and led to a rise in the consumer protection charge on package holidays – the Atol Protection Contribution (APC) – and spurred efforts to widen the Atol scheme.
Kiss offered flights and accommodation to Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Cyprus, the Canary Islands, Spain and Portugal. It was sold to sports tour operator and dynamic packager Flight Options in January 2009 for an undisclosed sum.
Announcement posted on the Flight Options website