XL Airways was a British low-cost charter and scheduled airline, which ceased operations when it went into administration on 12 September 2008. Its headquarters are in Crawley, West Sussex, near London Gatwick Airport. It is part of the XL Leisure Group. XL Airways is a trading name for XL Airways UK Limited. The airline provided short-haul and long-haul charter services predominantly to leisure destinations from its three bases at London Gatwick, Manchester and Glasgow. The airline also operated services from Newcastle, Bristol, East Midlands, Birmingham, Knock.
The airline was established in 1994 as Sabre Airways and started operations on 17 December 1994. The name Excel was adopted following the acquisition in November 2000 of a 67% stake by Libra Holidays Group, and subsequently increased. In March 2004 the Avion Group (now Eimskipafélag Íslands) completed the purchase of 40.5% of the Excel Airways Group.
In March 2006 Excel Airways signed an agreement with GE Commercial Aviation Services for the lease of two Next-Generation Boeing 737-900ER (Extended Range) aircraft. These were the first examples of the latest variant of the Boeing 737 aircraft to operate in the UK when delivered in May 2008.
The airline acquired three Boeing 747-300 aircraft following the merger of sister company Air Atlanta Europe in May 2006. The aircraft were operated for Travel City Direct between the UK and Orlando, however they left the fleet in November 2007 following expiration of their leases.
The XL.com website and aircraft branding was adopted by the Excel Airways Group in November 2006 as part of a major brand relaunch. Sister airlines in Germany and France were also rebranded.
The airline left around 90,000 stranded passengers in 50 destinations across Europe, USA, the Caribbean and Africa. 63,000 of the stranded passengers were on package holidays, so were covered by the ATOL bond, which ensures paid-for repatriation. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) chartered a number of aircraft from airlines such as Astraeus, British Airways, bmi, First Choice Airways, Jet2.com, Monarch Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. One widely-reported Astraeus flight to Sharm el-Sheikh was flown by Iron Maiden lead singer Bruce Dickinson. Passengers who had booked direct, and were therefore not ATOL-protected, had to arrange their own flights home, but in some cases were offered special fares by airlines, or were offered spare seats on CAA-organised flights at a reasonable cost.
The airline's other destinations prior to ceasing operations were:
On 4 November 2004, the left wing of an Excel Airways Boeing 767-200 (G-SATR) struck the right horizontal stabiliser of a stationary bmibaby Boeing 737-300 while both aircraft were awaiting departure from Manchester Airport. The investigation concluded that the Excel 767 Captain, who bore primary responsibility for collision avoidance, misjudged the available separation due to a combination of physiological limitations, distractions and a false assumption regarding his Air Traffic Control clearance.
|Aircraft||Number in Fleet|
|Airbus A330-200||1 (Leased from XL France)|
SFO PAR XLENCE SWEEPSTAKES! SFO AND XL AIRWAYS FRANCE HOST A SWEEPSTAKES WITH A CHANCE TO WIN A PAIR OF ROUND-TRIP TICKETS TO PARIS.
Jun 02, 2012; SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- The following information was released by the San Francisco Airport Commission: As part of the Airport's...