The coronavirus crisis has claimed its latest travel victim: Fleetway Travel, a holiday company that had been trading since 1975.
The firm, with offices in London and Sheffield, had 85 staff. They were informed of the closure in a Zoom call.
Fleetway offered a wide range of European, US and worldwide packages. It also traded as Exclusive Luxury Breaks, Explorer’s Collection, Late Bargains, Luxury Holiday Collection, Phone & Fly, Sail Away, Silversurfers Holidays and Travelsmart.
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The closure since March of the American market, with a presidential ban on travellers from the UK, has hit Fleetway particularly badly.
At the time of its failure the firm had around 6,500 forward bookings. Some of them may still be able to go ahead, given that airlines have been paid for their tickets, but holidaymakers may be asked to pay again for “replacement services of the original package holiday” – typically transfers and accommodation.
They will be able to claim for these elements from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which administers the Atol financial protection scheme.
The CAA said no holidaymakers are currently abroad on Atol-protected bookings with Fleetway.
Thousands more travellers are seeking refunds from Fleetway for holidays that had been cancelled during the coronavirus pandemic.
The company had recommended customers contact their travel insurer, rebook their trip or accept a “refund credit note” entitling them to rebook a holiday at a future date or receive a cash refund at a later date.
The Atol administrator said customers will be able to claim refunds for protected bookings.
Andy Cohen, head of Atol at the CAA, said: “We understand this will be concerning news for anyone who has booked to travel with the company or has had their booking cancelled.
“It is a sad day for the industry when a long-established business like Fleetway ceases trading.
“However, the Atol scheme exists for exactly this kind of situation and we are making arrangements so all Atol-protected customers may make a claim.”
Fleetway’s website has not yet been updated to reflect the closure. It says: “Our mission is to open up the world to every person – to allow you to discover the world for less.”
Every travel company has been badly hit by the almost total shutdown of tourism, and the subsequent introduction of blanket quarantine by the UK government.
The standard Package Travel Regulations, which required refunds for package holidays to be paid within two week, have gone by the board – with customers told to wait months for refunds.
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