The boss of Kiss Flights has spoken of his devastation at the seat only operator’s failure.


Gary Ash, the chief executive of Flight Options which traded as Kiss Flights, blamed the seat-only operator’s demise on a combination of the ash cloud, ongoing problems with the banks and the decision by certain companies to put the firm on their non-insured lists.


He said: “I am absolutely devastated by this unfortunate turn of events. Over the past nine months we have been fighting in a very difficult travel market.


“However, recent developments have made it impossible to continue the operation of the companies.


“The effect of the volcanic ash was devastating, when the banks were in trouble the government bailed them out but when the tour operators had to cope with the enforced closure of the skies and the expensive cost of repatriation the government did not help.


“The demise of Goldtrail has cost us dearly as we have had to assume responsibility for a large number of unsold seats.


“On top of poor yields and very late booking trends, our fate was sealed by actions implemented by Hays Travel and CBG Insurance Brokers when putting Kiss Flights on their non-insured list.


“This caused negative publicity on Kiss Flights and resulted in a massive 50% reduction in bookings, thus leaving us heavily exposed and unable to recover.”


Hays Travel and CBG Insurance Brokers both disputed claims that they had played a role in the company’s failure. Hays managing director John Hays told Travel Weekly, “Hays Travel is not an insurer so Ash’s comment saying we have Kiss Flights on a non-insured list is factually incorrect. Hays Travel were selling Kiss Flights until the moment they ceased trading.”


CBG director Neville Hortas said: “Hays Travel is not a client of CBG and we have never put Kiss Flights on our non-insured list. CBG is one of the UK’s leading providers of scheduled airline failure insurance and as the name suggests covers scheduled airlines. Kiss Flights was a charter, seat-only tour operator and not a scheduled airline. Therefore, Kiss  would never have been insured under the CBG scheduled airline failure insurance policy.”


Travel Weekly understands Flight Options was asked to pledge millions of pounds’ worth of assets to obtain risk insurance for the next trading period, but was unable or unwilling to provide this.


Ash added that the company’s last annual results filed for the year ending October 31 2009, revealed Kiss Flights had made an operating profit of £500,000.