Alitalia could be next as tourists still stranded after collapse of XL Leisure

Fears were growing last night that the Italian airline Alitalia would collapse, days after some 85,000 British holidaymakers were stranded abroad when the travel firm XL Leisure Tours went bust.

Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, rushed to consult ministers in Rome after the national carrier announced that it might be forced into liquidation. The airline's bankruptcy administrator, Augusto Fantozzi, was reported to have said flights could not be guaranteed because Alitalia was unable to obtain fuel.

Meanwhile, administrators for XL Leisure Tours, which went bust on Friday, refused to allow officials to use the firm's grounded fleet to help bring back the stranded passengers, it was claimed last night.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it had approached Kroll – which was called in on Friday as joint administrators for XL – with a request to allow use of the planes, but claimed it had been rebuffed. "We offered to extend XL Airways' licence to allow us to take passengers but Kroll refused," a spokesman said.

"We offered to pay for the use of the aircraft as well as fuel and crews as it was our preferred option to use planes which are sitting on the tarmac doing nothing."

Kroll denied the claim, saying that it had "explored every avenue" to help repatriate customers in discussions with the CAA, "including continuing to operate the fleet".

A spokeswoman said: "The CAA was not in a position to offer terms that were reasonable."

Kroll said earlier that people who paid by credit card or used a tour operator affiliated to Atol, which operates an air travel protection scheme, should get their money back, but those who booked a flight directly with XL Airways would not be protected. In some cases, travel insurance and payment by Visa card will also be liable for refunds.

The CAA, which is co-ordinating the repatriation of XL's passengers, has asked Monarch Airlines and Virgin Atlantic to bring people home in spare seats and extra chartered flights.

Sir Richard Branson, the boss of Virgin Airlines, called for an urgent review of the rules governing failed airlines . "It does not make sense for aircraft to be lying idle at UK airports when they should be used to bring back stranded passengers," he said.

The first victims of XL's collapse began to arrive back yesterday. The CAA said it had successfully repatriated 11,900 people by last night. Among them was Alison Hill, 37, a lawyer from Redditch, Worcestershire, who flew into Gatwick yesterday morning on a specially chartered Monarch flight from Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt and spoke of her concerns that she might not have been able to find a flight home.

"I spent the whole day in tears at reception with a very unhappy two-year-old wondering if I was ever going to get home," she said.

As well as those stranded abroad, thousands more people waiting to begin their holidays were left stuck at UK airports. Mark and Kelly Belcher, a newlywed couple from Essex, were devastated when their honeymoon to Skiathos in Greece was cancelled.

The Foreign Office said British embassies were on standby to help nationals get in touch with families back in the UK for financial assistance.

There was better news for travellers heading to Europe by train yesterday and relief that services were beginning to return to normal after a fire in the Channel Tunnel on Thursday. Eurostar began a reduced service at 7am yesterday, after a 16-hour battle by hundreds of firefighters from Britain and France to subdue the blaze which raged inside the Channel rail link.

Travel chaos: Normal service will resume...

* Eurotunnel announces a limited service through the Channel Tunnel on Saturday morning.

* Priority for rail passengers and lorry freight over cars, for now.

* 85,000 British holidaymakers stranded abroad after the collapse of XL Leisure Group.

* Thousands more who booked with XL forced to make alternative arrangements or cancel breaks.

* Civil Aviation Authority says that people who booked through Atol-affiliated operators or paid by credit card will be fully compensated.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Graduate Sales Executive / Junior Sales Exec

    £18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Exe...

    Web Developer / Software Developer

    £25 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Web Developer / Software Developer is needed ...

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone