Coronavirus forces STA Travel UK out of business, leaving travellers chasing refunds

STA Travel UK has gone out of business, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said, in news that will leave thousands of customers chasing worthless refunds.

It is the latest travel business to shut down after global tourism ground to a halt as a result of coronavirus.

The long-established agency – whose initials are derived from its original parent company, Student Travel Australia – specialised in cheap air fares and adventure tours for young people

When restrictions started coming into effect in March, many trips were cut short – or did not begin. Long-stay trips to distant destinations, which was the mainstay of STA Travel, have since been impossible to undertake.

On Thursday, Qantas said that it would not operate intercontinental flights to and from Australia before the second half of 2021.

Thousands of customers who have been chasing refunds for months will now find themselves with worthless vouchers. It is not clear how many will be able to claim from the CAA’s Atol scheme or their card issuers.

STA Travel UK was licensed to carry 34,000 package holidaymakers a year under its Atol bond but many more customers bought flight-only tickets or land arrangements which do not have the same protection.

The agency’s Swiss parent, Diethelm Keller Group, filed for insolvency on Thursday but said that it hoped individual businesses could continue trading.

“Sales have not picked up as anticipated, due to consumer uncertainties, further restrictions and renewed lock-down measures, which are expected to largely continue into 2021,” it said in a statement. “As a consequence, STA Travel Holding AG, is filing for insolvency.”

Online visitors to STA Travel UK are told: “The website is currently down for maintenance, but will be back shortly. “If you wish to make a new booking, please give us a call.”

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