13,000 stranded after French airline collapses

France's second-largest airline Aigle Azur, which went into receivership this week, plans to cancel all flights starting Friday night as it seeks a takeover bid to save the company. (AFP)
Updated 10 September 2019
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13,000 stranded after French airline collapses

  • The airline filed for bankruptcy and suspended flights last week after losses which prompted a shareholder coup that ousted the chief executive
  • Air France chartered two special flights on Saturday and then again on Sunday to help passengers booked on Algeria flights

PARIS: Some 13,000 passengers, mainly booked on flights to and from Algeria, are still stranded after France’s second-largest airline Aigle Azur went into receivership, a senior French official said Monday, adding that several potential buyers had been identified.
The airline, which employs almost 1,200 staff, filed for bankruptcy and suspended flights last week after losses which prompted a shareholder coup that ousted the chief executive.
“Out of 19,000 passengers who found themselves in difficulty at the peak of the crisis, there are still 13,000” who have yet to be repatriated, the secretary of state for transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, told the Le Parisien daily.
He said these included 11,000 passengers booked on flights into and out of Algeria, 600 on Mali flights as well as other destinations ranging from Russia to Lebanon.
Air France chartered two special flights on Saturday and then again on Sunday to help passengers booked on Algeria flights, which flew out one quarter full but were full on the return.
“The hardest moment of the crisis will be over before the end of the week. At least half the passengers (affected) will have been repatriated,” Djebbari said.
The airline transported last 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.
“There needs to be a serious buyer who is capable of offering guarantees for a maximum number of employees. The good news is that many (potential buyers) have expressed interest,” said Djebbari.
He said the former chief executive of Air France’s subsidiary Hop!, Lionel Guerin, was among interested parties, backed by a team of aviation professionals with financial support.
He added that Air France itself also appeared interested in making an offer.
“This shows there is still an interest in Aigle Azur,” he added. Neither party has so far publicly confirmed an interest, with Air France declining to comment on an “evolving” situation.
According to union officials, Air France could be interested in the medium-haul routes to Algeria and the Dubreuil group, the majority shareholder in Air Caraibes, the long haul routes to destinations like Brazil and Mali.
The largest shareholder in Aigle Azur is the Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, which owns Hainan Airlines, with a 49-percent stake.
David Neeleman, an American airline entrepreneur whose companies include JetBlue and TAP Air Portugal, owns 32 percent, and French businessman Gerard Houa owns 19 percent.

Meanwhile, British carrier easyJet has expressed an interest in collapsed airline Aigle Azur's operations at Paris Orly airport, a spokesman said on Monday.


Saudi market regulator in talks with Aramco on IPO rules

Updated 14 min 19 sec ago

Saudi market regulator in talks with Aramco on IPO rules

  • Kingdom’s stock market regulator typically requires firms offer at least 20% to 30% of their shares when floating
  • Aramco’s primary listing will be on the Saudi stock exchange (Tadawul) in Riyadh

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority (CMA) is in talks with Saudi Aramco and its advisers about the regulatory requirements for listing on the domestic stock exchange, its chairman Mohammed bin Abdullah Elkuwaiz told Reuters.
“We continue to have discussions with the company and its advisers on both their readiness, as well as our regulatory requirements for the market,” Kuwaiz said on Wednesday.
Asked whether there will be any waivers or exemptions for the company’s listing, Kuwaiz told Reuters in an interview that the CMA is “still having those discussions.”
The Kingdom’s stock market regulator typically requires firms offer at least 20% to 30% of their shares when floating.
Aramco, whose chairman Yassir Al-Rumayyan said this week that the IPO would be ready within the next year and preparations were continuing despite Saturday’s attacks on its facilities, is yet to file its prospectus with the Saudi regulator.
“We receive waivers or exemption requests where needed and we review them on a case by case basis,” Kuwaiz said, in reference to those discussions.
Aramco’s primary listing will be on the Saudi stock exchange (Tadawul) in Riyadh, but the government is still considering a secondary listing overseas, Saudi finance minister, Mohammed Al-Jadaan told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.