Last-ditch attempts to save XL Airways France have failed, after a commercial court declared the airline would be liquidated, ending a turbulent history for an airline which had undergone multiple ownership changes over the past 15 years.
All flights by the Paris-based carrier, which had previously been suspended until 7 October, have been permanently cancelled.
Insolvency procedures against XL Airways France had opened at the Bobigny commercial court on 23 September, granting time for the airline to secure a rescuer.
But this effort failed and the carrier says a hearing at the court on 4 October has resulted in the liquidation decision.
"We apologise for the inconvenience this situation may have caused our valuable customers," it states.
The airline had been the subject of a reported investment offer, linked to shareholders of recently-collapsed Aigle Azur, but this appears not to have gained momentum.
XL Airways says some airlines – including French Bee and Corsair – are offering "rescue fares" for passengers, and it is advising customers with package holiday agreements to contact their tour operator for assistance.
The carrier, founded in the mid-1990s, operated a fleet of Airbus A330s.
Originally known as Star Europe and then Star Airlines – an acronym for Societe de Transport Aerien Regional – the French carrier had initially been associated with tour operator Look Voyages.
The airline was acquired by the Icelandic investor Avion Group in 2006 which planned to use the operator to expand its leisure carrier division – named XL Leisure Group – which also included the UK's Excel Airways as well as a newly-created German operation, also curiously named Star Europe.
Avion Group, however, sold the XL Leisure Group in the same year, through a $450 million management buy-out.
This resulted in XL Leisure Group's opting to rebrand its three airlines under a common name – XL Airways – and establish the new identity across its fleet of more than 30 aircraft.
But the group was short-lived. Just two years after its separation from Avion, it entered administration and the UK division of XL Airways collapsed – although the French and German divisions continued to operate.
The surviving French and German carriers were acquired by an Icelandic investment bank, Straumur, just as the country was engulfed by the global economic downturn.
Both operators were subsequently sold to investor X-Air Aviation, linked to BeachSide Capital, around 2011-12 although the German division ceased operations shortly afterwards.
XL Airways France survived and underwent another corporate transfer in 2016 when it was combined with the long-haul all-premium operator La Compagnie, under the Paris-based holding company DreamJet Participations.
But ambitions to develop the two airlines, under XL Airways France chief Laurent Magnin, as long-haul budget operations at different ends of the cabin service spectrum – one in the business-class sector and the other focused on economy class – were ultimately not sufficient to save the leisure carrier.