Leisure airlines

Azur Air ends flights as tour operators support insolvent Small Planet Airlines

Azur Air is down and out of the German aviation market.
AZUR air
Azur Air is down and out of the German aviation market.

Loss-making start-up leisure airline Azur Air has stopped all flights but tour operators are staying loyal to insolvent charter carrier Small Planet Airlines.

Azur Air announced on Wednesday that it is stopping all flights with immediate effect due to continuing high losses and after an unsuccessful search for a new investor. The airline, owned by the Turkey-based Anex Tourism Group, said it had not been able to establish a financially stable flight operation.

In particular, the large number of flight delays and cancellations had resulted in high costs and increased its losses. The airline’s main customer, Anex Tour, was no longer prepared to accept the permanent flight changes and would work with other airlines in future, it stated.

For its part, Anex Tour said it would switch passengers to sub-charter flights, including by Onur Air which has been flying for the tour operator for the last fortnight, as well as to other airlines.

Azur Air took off as a new charter airline on the German market last year with two long-haul B767 planes flying mostly for Anex Tour from Düsseldorf to Mediterranean and North African destinations and also to the Dominican Republic. But the planes suffered a series of technical problems that repeatedly disrupted flights. The carrier already downsized to just one B737-900 flying short- and medium-haul routes this summer.

In contrast, Small Planet Airlines, which was forced to declare insolvency last week, has been given a vote of confidence by major tour operators who have cooperated with the start-up niche carrier over the last few years. The airline announced it would maintain flights with its fleet of nine planes from small regional airports to mainstream Mediterranean destinations.

TUI, Thomas Cook, DER Touristik and FTI, who have all booked seat contingents with Small Planet for the forthcoming winter season, said they would keep to their capacity planning with the airline, especially with regard to the forthcoming autumn half-term holidays period. TUI will stick to its full charter flights with two planes from Leipzig/Halle and Paderborn/Lippstadt to the Canaries and Egypt. Cook and DER both declared: “We are keeping to our planning.”

The airline, a subsidiary of Lithuania-based Small Planet Airlines, filed for insolvency last week following several months of troubled operations, including numerous well-publicised lengthy flight delays and cancellations that generated high costs for replacement aircraft and passenger compensation. The management is now seeking investors to take over the airline.

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