Bulgaria's Notorious Alma Tour Fly Files for BankruptcyTourism | October 7, 2011, Friday // 14:43| views
The Alma Tour scandal left close to 1,000 international tourists, most of them Russians, stranded at Bulgarian Black Sea airports. Photo by BGNES
Alma Tour Fly, a company within the group of scandal-hit Bulgarian tour operator Alma Tour, filed for bankruptcy on October 06, the Sofia City Court said Friday.
Problems with Alma Tour surfaced in early September, when close to 1,000 international tourists, most of them Russians, were stranded at Bulgarian Black Sea airports of Burgas and Varna.
Their flights were cancelled by national air carrier Bulgaria Air over what it claimed to be EUR 3.6 M debts from Alma Tour, which had booked the tourists' trips.
On September 13, Bulgaria Air claimed Alma Tour had had problems in repaying its bank loans in the summer, namely a credit in the amount of USD 8 M for the financing of its airline transportation services and in the amount of EUR 18 M for hotel accommodations.
The biggest creditor of Alma Tour was said to be the Bulgarian Commercial Corporate Bank, with which the company had pledged its assets for EUR 13 M.
In the meantime, Bulgarian industrial conglomerate Chimimport, comprising companies like Bulgaria Air, Central Cooperative Bank (CCB) and insurance company Armeetz, rejected claims of eyeing assets of companies within the debt-ridden Alma Tour group.
"Like anywhere else in the world, when a company takes a loan, it pledges some asset as collateral. In this case, the firms within the Alma Tour group have pledged collaterals to CCB and Bulgaria Air of their choice", Chimimport said in a Wednesday statement, refuting allegations that it aimed to take over the troubled tour operator after bringing it to its knees.
Chimimport is popularly known among Bulgarians as connected with the famous TIM group operating in northeast Bulgaria, especially second-biggest city Varna.
According to the holding's statement, Alma Tour had grown financially irregular in its relations with CCB and the Armeetz insurance company in the beginning of 2011.
Despite that, the industrial conglomerate stressed, "Chimimport AD and its subsidiaries have always shown patience in their business relations with Alma Tour".
Chimimport insisted that it had never held talks for the acquisition of assets of Alma Tour or for joint activities with the tour operator and that such an option was out of the question at that stage.
On September 21, it was revealed that Bulgarian tourists on Alma Tour holidays in Turkey's Antalya and on the Greek island of Crete would be flown home despite the lack of payment for their tickets and thanks to the assistance of another tour operator.
Bulgaria's Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism issued a warning to all customers of Alma Tour to refrain from using the services of the company and to claim their money back from insurance company Armeetz.
Bulgaria's Commission for Consumer Protection (KZP) banned Alma Tour from sealing package travel deals because its financial condition made it impossible for the company to honor its obligations.
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