September 12, 2008

Shortage of Flights Could Hit Seguro Tourists Lack of Availability May Restrict Those Yet to Depart


A LEADING travel agent yesterday warned thousands of Scots tourists affected by the collapse of a travel firm that they could have problems rebooking their holidays because of a shortage of available flights.

The warning came as the first holidaymakers abroad affected by the failure of Seguro Holidays arrived back in Scotland The firm, which had its main base at Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire, announced on Wednesday that it had stopped trading.

Last night an industry source claimed Seguro's collapse was emerging as the biggest since that of ILG Intasun Group in 1991, and said it would cost a travel industry rescue fund about GBP7m.

Some 2500 holidaymakers abroad and about 18,000 with advance bookings were affected by the firm's failure, which came two weeks after Zoom Airlines suspended all operations.

Ann Glenn, 60, who is retired, and her husband John Glenn, 59, a storeman, arrived at Prestwick Airport last night after being on holiday in Callela, Spain. The couple from Hamilton said they were exhausted and have to find a bed and breakfast in Prestwick because they could not get home last night.

Mrs Glenn said: "This is the last time we do something like this. The only information we had was a notice on a board in the hotel."

Mr Glenn added: "We are just exhausted."

Ryan Boyd, 19, from Irvine was waiting for his girlfriend to get off the same flight. He said he had brought a backpack to the airport in case the flight did not get in .

He said: "It was just chaotic. My girlfriend phoned me in tears - apparently there were no reps at her hotel. All the hotel had was a fax saying that they could stay at the hotel until further notice.

"I was on the phone for about five hours yesterday trying to find ways of getting her home. I was even thinking about just hiring a car and driving over to pick her up " All of Seguro's customers abroad will be able to complete their holidays, while those with forward bookings should be able to get a refund because the company was a member of a travel protection scheme run by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

But Bill Munro, founder and chairman of Scotland's largest travel agent, Barrhead Travel, which had about 3000 advance bookings with Seguro, said yesterday there were very few flights to sell.

He said: "The firm's demise has come at an unfortunate time because there is so little availability I don't think the public realise how bad it is.

"It's been exacerbated with Ryanair cancelling flights from Edinburgh through late delivery of aircraft, which means that some 40,000 people there will be looking for alternative flights. Also there's all the people from Seguro and Zoom Airlines, so there's very little left to sell " Mr Munro claimed some tour operators were capitalising on the shortage of availability by increasing prices by up to GBP100 per passenger.

Paul Semple, a director with Semple Travel, based in Bishopbriggs, Glasgow, agreed He said: "There are alternatives although in some cases they will not be as reasonably priced as the original holidays " A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook said: "Customers who booked Seguro holidays through Thomas Cook will be offered alternative holidays " Mr Munro and Mr Semple made their comments before the arrival late last night at Prestwick Airport of the first two plane loads of returning Seguro customers from Barcelona and Faro. Another flight is due to return to the airport today from Palma .

Originally published by Newsquest Media Group.

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