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Passengers stranded as airlines fold

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For the past few years, international flights have been the subject of much scrutiny. Unlike seven years ago, international flights are far safer, much more efficient and a lot easier to deal with-- especially with the threat of international terror calmed down. This leads us to believe that air travel is predictable again. In reality, with the exploding cost of fuel in our world, the chaos has only begun.

XL Airways was the third-largest holiday package company in the U.K. Remarkably, XL transported 2.3 million passengers across the world last year. Unfortunately, on Sept. 12, the transportation giant entered administration-- where a creditor assumes control of the business and looks for assets to sell for the bank to regain its outstanding loans-- largely due to increasing fuel costs. However relevant this is to us Canadians (which isn't much, XL was based mainly in Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester) an important fact should be made clear: on the fateful day of Sept. 12, 67,000 passengers were stranded in other countries.

Chief Executor of XL Airways Phil Wyatt looked utterly emotionless when he delivered his final business address to the media. He claimed he was extremely devastated by the loss of the company, but realistically, who wouldn't be? If anyone could be raking in thousands of dollars a day (at least-- his actual income figures aren't posted anywhere) they'd feel the same way. But incredibly, Wyatt didn't speak one word directed to the 67,000 passengers who didn't have a flight back home. Instead, he remarked that the Civic Airway Authority of the U.K. had an immense task on their hands in returning the stranded passengers. It must be nice to drop everything and say, "Fuel costs too much, so we aren't going to fly you anywhere now. Cheerio!"

Also operating from Glasgow, Gatwick and Manchester, Zoom Airlines was a proud Canadian business founded in Ottawa in 2001 as a way for their parent company, Go Travel Direct, to minimize third-party costs for holiday deals. On Aug. 28, they too entered administration. Zoom's co-founder apologized profoundly for the incredible inconvenience caused by the company's collapse.

Rising fuel costs were a huge factor in the grounding of Zoom Airlines and XL Airways. However, these economically friendly holiday packagers suffered because of the way they dealt with the reality of rising fuel costs.

Businesses as large as XL and Zoom hire analysts to predict the cost of fuel and circumstances such as this so if they are caught in a situation like it, they will be prepared to deal with it. One of XL's rivals pointed out that, airlines with "less than robust business models" were going to fail because of the rising cost of oil. This is completely true-- XL and Zoom aren't the only airline businesses to have entered administration because of the cost of oil. Perhaps if a corporation isn't willing to deal with changes in the global economy they don't deserve to be a part of it. But for the thousands of passengers stranded, that offers little comfort.

This is exactly what a customer risks when they purchase cheaper flight tickets to their holiday destination. As the cost of fuel rises, many more people will be affected, so all travellers should be wary about who they fly with.

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