Bulgaria's Notorious Alma Tour Officially Bankrupt

Tourism | February 16, 2012, Thursday // 12:30|  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

A Bulgarian court has officially declared Alma Tour tour operator bankrupt, half a year after hundreds of foreign tourists were kept hostages at a Bulgarian airport because of the company's outstanding debts.

Sofia City Court ruling was filed at the Registry Agency on January 24, the financial supervision commission announced this week.

The scandal-hit Bulgarian tour operator Alma Tour and Alma Tour Fly, a company within the group, filed for bankruptcy in October, sending a troubling signal of what may lie ahead for other tour operators.

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.

Chimimport is popularly known among Bulgarians as connected with the famous TIM group operating in northeast Bulgaria, especially second-biggest city Varna.

After the troubling events 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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Tags: Armeetz, tour operator, Alma Tour, Chimimport, Corporate Commercial Bank, indebted


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