In what could be the most hellish nightmare for flyers, the French airline Aigle Azur filed for bankruptcy last week, leaving thousands of passengers stranded at airports.
The airline, considered France's second-largest, announced the cancelation of all its flights on Friday, saying scheduled flights will be called off until further notice starting Saturday. According to French Junior Minister for Transport Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, thousands of passengers "will remain blocked outside France on their way back from summer vacation."
Djebbari told Le Parisien there are 13,000 passengers waiting for repatriation, out of originally "19,000 passengers who found themselves in difficulty at the peak of the crisis," as Arab News reported. From the 13,000 flyers, around 11,000 had booked on flights to and from Algeria, "600 on Mali flights as well as other destinations ranging from Russia to Lebanon."
The minister said the problem should be resolved by the end of the week.
In a bid to help ease the sudden chaos that was created, Air France chartered two special flights on Saturday and Sunday "to help passengers booked on Algeria flights, which flew out one-quarter full but were full on the return."
The French government also vowed to help the company find investors who could possibly pull it back up.
On Monday, British low-cost airline easyJet showed interest in Aigle Azur's operations at Paris Orly airport. Other interested investors came forth including Franco-Dutch airline Air France-KLM — which reported a slump of 7 percent in its shares on Monday "amid market speculation that Air France could step in to help rescue the bankrupt airline" as the French government could "push them to get involved."
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Aigle Azur flew over 1.9 million passengers just last year, with the majority of them going from or to Algeria. The latter makes up an attractive market for the airline and potential future investors since it brought around $329 million of revenue in 2019.
The airline employs around 1,150 staff members and has been in the market since 1946. It has gone into receivership last week and is awaiting offers from shareholders and other competitive airline companies.