13,000 stranded after French airline collapses

REUTERS  Benoit Tessier

REUTERS Benoit Tessier

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 Russian Federation to Lebanon".

Thousands of passengers of the French airline Aigle Azur have been stranded around the world for days after their planes were grounded due to bankruptcy. Neither party has so far publicly confirmed an interest, with Air France declining to comment on an "evolving" situation.

Europe's largest airline group Air France-KLM registered a 1.2 percent growth in passenger traffic in August driven by the strong performance of its North American destinations, the company said on Monday.

The airline transported past year some 1.9 million passengers, with destinations in Algeria making up half of its operations that brought in 300 million euros ($329 million) of revenue. British budget airline Easyjet said it had expressed interest in some Aigle Azur operations.

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Aigle Azur, whose biggest shareholders are China's HNA Group and Brazilian entrepreneur David Neeleman, has suffered in the wake of a botched expansion from profitable medium-haul services focused on Algeria into long-haul destinations such as Brazil. The CFDT union said there were a total of 14 offers, but some are only believed to be expressions of intent and others are offering only a partial purchase.

The French state, keen to drum up interest and save Aigle Azur's 1,200 jobs, had also flagged potential bids from Air Caraibes parent Dubreuil Group and an investor group led by Lionel Guerin, former head of Air France's Hop! unit.

Air France-KLM shares fell sharply on Monday amid reports suggesting that it might be set to table a bid for struggling regional carrier Aigle Azur even as the company warned of the toll that softer economic conditions were taking on its own business.

According to ABCNews.com, when Aigle Azur made the announcement Friday that it had seized operations and canceled every previously planned flight, it also revealed it had no money to compensate customers or arrange other means of transportation home for stranded passengers. "All we want is to be listened to and continue to work", said the worker. The Journal covers primarily the Maghreb region and expands its general coverage to the Sahel, Egypt, and beyond, when events in those regions affect the broader North Africa geography. Our position is to always bring our best analysis of events affecting the region, and remain as neutral as humanly possible.

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