Long kiss goodnight for UK firm

Flight Options, Ltd., the parent company of Kiss Flights, has become the 13th holiday company to fold in 2010, alongside UK-based travel firm, Goldtrail, and the lesser known, Malachite Travel.

Estimates suggest that as many as 70,000 Brits could have had their holiday plans scuppered by the collapse of Kiss.

The airline, whose official website now displays a permanent error, has been operating flights from UK airports for a number of years. The firm was bought by Flight Options in early 2009 from the former directors of the ill-fated, XL Leisure Group. XL folded in 2008, much to the chagrin of 85,000 customers.

Kiss added 12 flights to Glasgow’s books as recently as January, plugging the deficit in flights left by the collapse of Flyglobespan, and becoming a local hero in the process.

Yet Kiss’ business model was fundamentally flawed, according to Co-op Travel boss, Mike Greenacre – “the flights were just too cheap. Co-op took a commercial decision not to sell Kiss flights.” Greenacre, who was speaking to BBC Radio 4, told listeners that the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) decision to allow Kiss to fly in the first place was ‘concerning.’

Whilst the reason for Kiss’ collapse has not been made explicit, the recent volcanic ash crisis, coupled with the recession and a more frugal approach to holidaying by Brits, has produced a marked slump in profits for UK airlines and travel firms.

The harsh winter of 2009-10 has also been blamed, with Highland Airways succumbing to its debts in April this year, after finding its clientele (mostly Highlanders and Islanders) unable to travel through freezing fog and snow.

Holidaymakers who booked through Kiss and departed or returned before last Wednesday evening were protected by the CAA, but the authority warned that pre-booked holidays – around 60,000 – would be refunded, rather than shunted to other airlines. Tickets for Kiss flights will no longer be accepted at European airports.

With the airline’s passengers safe, Glasgow Airport now has to contend with the loss of popular ‘sun and sea’ routes for the second time since December, when Flyglobespan ceased trading and entered administration.

The lost flights could have secured the airport’s finances throughout the winter season, a historically difficult time for the Scottish hub.

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