Astral Holidays, the Bulgarian partner of defunct UK holiday firm Thomas Cook and one of Bulgaria’s largest tour operators, said on October 7 that it was entering bankruptcy proceedings.
Bulgaria’s Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova said that she had convened a meeting with the management of Astral Holidays and its insurer.
In a statement on its website, Astral Holidays said that with great regret and disappointment, it was having to cease operations as of October 7 and enter bankruptcy proceedings, after almost 24 years on the tourist market “and in spite of the incredible efforts of management and employees”.
The decision had been made after a great deal of discussion, effort and attempts to secure financing for the company, Astral Holidays said.
The company had taken all necessary measures and fulfilled its obligations under the Tourism Act to protect its customers.
The trips of all clients who had bought holidays from Astral Holidays and who were currently abroad were fully paid “so there is no risk of problems with flights or refusal of accommodation in hotels or other tourist services”.
Customers who had purchased only airline tickets with scheduled or low cost airlines would be able to go ahead with their journeys, as all tickets had been bought and paid for by Astral Holidays.
“We emphasise that customers of Astral Holidays International Ltd who had made deposits or paid in full for their trips, but where Astral Holidays has not paid to a partner or service provider, will be compensated as the law provides. They are guaranteed with tour operator’s insurance contracted with the Unique insurance company, with coverage of 700 000 leva,” Astral Holidays said.
Bulgaria’s Tourism Ministry said that work was being done to clarify the precise number of tourists who have contracts with Astral Holidays.
“The Ministry of Tourism is in constant contact with representatives of the tour operator and is monitoring the situation in order to protect the interests of tourists according to the rules of the Bulgarian legislation.”
British holiday firm Thomas Cook went into compulsory liquidation on September 23 2019.
Bulgaria was among the numerous countries from which Thomas Cook customers were repatriated to the UK.
While not the largest player in the summer holiday foreign tourist market in Bulgaria, there has been serious concern about the impact that Thomas Cook’s failure will have on Bulgaria’s tourist market.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority said on October 7 that the day would see the conclusion of Operation Matterhorn, repatriating about 140 000 Thomas Cook customers from various parts of the world.
“The two-week flying programme, which involved the use of 150 aircraft from 50 partners from around the world, finishes later today, with the final flight arriving at Manchester Airport from Orlando with the last 392 passengers onboard,” the UK CAA said.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)