Insolvent French low-cost, long-haul airline XL Airways is suspending all flights as a court deadline for finding an investor or liquidating the airline nears.

“In great financial difficulties, XL Airways unfortunately finds itself obliged to suspend all its flights from Sept. 30, 2019 at [3:00 p.m. local] time until Thursday, Oct. 3 inclusive,” XL Airways said in a statement on its website. The move three days after a French commercial court ruled that fellow French carrier Aigle Azur should be liquidated as no suitable rescue plan for the airline materialized.

A French commercial court will decide in the coming days whether any of the expressions of interest in XL Airways, which had to be submitted to the court by Sept. 28, represents a viable option to save the airline. XL Airways CEO Laurent Magnin had previously called on Air France to rescue XL Airways, a course of action Air France-KLM quickly ruled out.

XL Airways stopped selling tickets as of Sept. 19. The airline, which operates from Paris Charles de Gaulle and other French cities to US and Caribbean destinations with a fleet of four Airbus A330s, is owned by DreamJet Participations, which is also the parent company of all-business class airline La Compagnie.

A day before XL Airways announced the suspension of its flights, French economy minister Bruno Le Maire sparked controversy by claiming unfair competition from low-cost operator Norwegian Air Shuttle was partly to blame for XL Airways’ difficulties.

“The rules have to be the same for everybody,” Le Maire told RTL radio Sept. 29, adding, “One airline, Norwegian, slashes prices even though it is in debt, because it has public support from the Norwegian government.”

Norwegian refuted Le Maire’s statement, saying, “Norwegian has never received any form of government aid, but has successfully built a global airline that carries 40 million passengers a year. Our routes between France and the US have been embraced by French and American travelers alike, thanks to our new planes, low fares and award-winning service.”

Magnin has previously said stiff competition from Norwegian on US routes was partly to blame for XL’s difficulties, as well as the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests in France, which have purportedly put off foreign tourists from visiting.

Helen Massy-Beresford, helen.massy-beresford@aviationweek.co.uk