The fate of luxury online tour operator Luxtripper remains in the balance with efforts to sell some or all of the business continuing but the cost of its failure likely to run into millions unless advance bookings can go ahead.
Luxtripper ceased trading on October 20 after announcing a day earlier that it had suspended operations to “explore urgent rescue solutions”, telling clients their holidays “will not be able to go ahead”.
It’s understood 70-75 passengers were overseas at the end of last week, and the company had at least 900 forward Atol bookings.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) confirmed the company’s failure as an Atol holder last Friday (October 20), noting accommodation-only bookings and non-flight packages would not be covered by the Atol scheme. A consumer claims portal for those with Atol-protected bookings was expected to be in place by today (Thursday).
A single booking could be worth as much as £20,000, meaning a potential multimillion-pound impact on the Air Travel Trust.
Luxtripper held an Atol for 4,437 package customers, but there has been no indication thus far from the company or CAA of the scale of Luxtripper’s non-Atol business and bookings.
The CAA advised any customers due to travel with Atol-protected bookings to check with airlines whether tickets are still valid and warned: “Overseas service providers may not have been paid.”
The company engaged restructuring specialist ReSolve Advisory to save or sell the business, with the aim of completing any transaction by tomorrow (Friday).
Luxtripper had a strong reputation, drawing a series of former senior travel industry executives into making significant investments as shareholders, and Roger Flynn – former chair of online travel agent LoveHolidays – took over as chair of Luxtripper in November 2018 following the sale of LoveHolidays to private equity.
An industry source suggested Luxtripper was “doing really well. The company was operationally brilliant. There was a lot of investment in the system. This was not a business that was not well run.”
Yet there are questions as to what went wrong given the strength of overseas travel demand in the last 12 months.
Luxtripper’s accounts reveal significant operating losses over the five years leading up to the pandemic, with significant sums from the issue of shares seemingly required to bolster its finances.
Chief executive Nena Chaletzos told Travel Weekly sister publication Aspire in September last year that the pandemic “wasn’t about survival for us”. Instead, the company “ramped up its digital content” and expanded from 44 staff to 155.
In a statement at the end of last week Luxtripper said it had undertaken “months of fundraising attempts” during “this challenging business period”, but the capital required had “not materialised due to the exceptionally challenging economic environment”.
Chaletzos has so far not responded to Travel Weekly requests for comment but said in a statement: “We are hugely saddened that we were unable to secure adequate funding.”
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