Fallout from FTI Touristik failure affects multiple markets

The fate of German travel group FTI Touristik and its customers remains unresolved since its fall into insolvency at the start of June.

Germany’s third-largest operator, FTI filed for insolvency on June 3 after the collapse of a refinancing deal.

It failed with at least 65,000 German customers abroad and 175,000 advance package bookings, in addition to many thousands in France, Austria and Switzerland, as well as trade bookings through FTI’s UK accommodation provider YouTravel.

More: Owner of Europe’s third largest operator FTI Group files for insolvency

Administrator of failed FTI cancels 175,000 holidays

Agents rebook clients as FTI collapse casts doubt on Youtravel future

Rival operators including Tui and Dertour helped those abroad continue their trips and return home, although Germany’s travel security fund (DRSF) reported some hotels locked FTI holidaymakers out of rooms or asked for payments.

German trade publication FVW noted reports that “FTI payments have not been made for months”.

Provisional administrator Axel Bierbach drew criticism for initially cancelling FTI bookings only until June 10, then extending the cancellations to July 5 as he sought to persuade rival operators to take over the bookings. Tour operators have been reluctant to do so for fear suppliers would not honour the bookings.

Bierbach has since cancelled all FTI Touristik bookings from July 6 – although in the UK YouTravel only cancelled bookings up to July 26 last week, noting bookings from July 27 “remain active”.

The German Travel Association (DRV) noted cancellation was “of great importance for travel agencies, who have been the first point of contact for travellers”.

Bierbach has estimated the value of outstanding bookings at a “high, three-digit million euros” figure.

Swiss operators FTI Touristik and Big Xtra Touristik have filed for insolvency with 13,000 bookings and a buyer is being sought for French tour operator FTI Voyages, which had a turnover of €200 million and is in receivership in France.

FTI’s hotel management subsidiary – which includes Labranda Hotels & Resorts, Design Plus Hotels, Kairaba Hotels & Resorts, Lemon & Soul Hotels, and MP Hotels – and its holding company for destination agencies have filed for insolvency.

The hotels are mostly leased or managed and their operations “remain unaffected” according to the administrator.

The Munich public prosecutor’s office has reported receiving an initial criminal complaint “for delaying insolvency” against FTI Touristik group chief executive Karl Markgraf and chief financial officer Lars Creutzmann, although a spokesperson told FVW: “This does not mean we will open an investigation.”

FTI was Germany’s market leader in Turkey and Egypt and had a group turnover of €3.2 billion.

However, there seems little prospect of finding a buyer for the group, and only some of its 120 subsidiaries are considered attractive to new owners.

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