Hundreds forced to change holiday plans as Scots travel firm goes bust

6.6.2009     (Press & Journal)

customers told they face 10-week wait to get their money back

Hundreds of people from across the north and north-east have been forced to change
their holiday plans after a Scottish travel company went bust.

ScotTravel Holidays, based at Bellshill in Lanarkshire, ceased trading on Thursday.

The firm, which specialised in trips to Turkey, mainly sold holidays through
travel agents, but they were also sold directly via the company’s website.

Travel agents were faced with hundreds of angry holidaymakers yesterday, while
dozens of customers were left queuing outside Ramsay World Travel in Aberdeen’s
Crown Street.

Speaking outside the store, Pamela Grant, 39, of Heathryfold, Aberdeen, said
she was told she would have to wait 10 weeks to get her money back.

Ms Grant, who works as a nurse, said: "I was told I would have to fill out a
compensation form and it would take up to 10 weeks to get my money back, but I
could still go on holiday if I was willing to pay the £1,500 again.

"Who actually has money like that? I was meant to be going with my children in
five weeks. I’m left with two very disappointed kids now."

Kara McLennan, 23, was also due to fly to Turkey on July 28.

Miss McLennan, of Mastrick Drive, Aberdeen, said: "I am disappointed but hopefully
I will get my money back, although I have to wait 10 weeks. It’s a long time."

Another holidaymaker said customers should have been contacted directly to tell
them what happened.

Calaidh Paterson, 22, of Whisky Brae, Ellon, was due to fly to Turkey with two
friends on July 7.

She said: "We didn’t get a phone call or even a letter. We only found out through
the notice on their website on Thursday. I was really looking forward to this
holiday, I just can’t believe it."

Thousands of people who were already enjoying their holidays meanwhile feared
they would be stranded abroad.

Yesterday, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it will arrange for customers
protected by the Air Travel Organisers’ Licence (Atol) to complete their holidays
and fly home.

The CAA estimates about 1,300 of the company’s customers are abroad.

ScotTravel Holidays finance director Angelina Ayden insisted no one who booked
with her company would be "thrown out of hotels".

Miss Ayden said: "People are not stranded and no one will be stranded.

"That is the beauty of the Atol licence we have worked endlessly and tirelessly
to secure, to make sure that every booking we take, we take under the knowledge
that our passengers are always protected.

"We have a fantastic relationship with hoteliers out in the resorts, and the
normal horrific stories of passengers being thrown out of hotels is not the case
with ScotTravel."

Miss Ayden said the firm’s collapse was caused by "sustained losses" and a general
downturn in the travel industry.

She added: "It is like someone has died. It will always be something we are proud
of but we are so disappointed we were not able to meet everybody’s expectations.