Guest Comment: Jayson Westbury, AFTA chief executive

Guest Comment: Jayson Westbury, AFTA chief executive
By admin


The collapse of Kumuka or as it should be officially known the “Creditors Voluntary Liquidation” (CVL) has been a most unfortunate and painful event for the travel industry.

It is important to first note what exactly has happened. A CVL is where directors of a company determine that the company is insolvent and cannot continue its operations or be rehabilitated, and then they may resolve to seek a resolution of shareholders to place the company into liquidation.

This position comes about when a company has ceased to trade, the company wishes to cease to trade for the interest of the public, or so that its officers do not incur penalties for breaches of the Act, such as trading whilst insolvent.

All nasty stuff and in the end a mess for travel agents and the travelling public not only here in Australia but across all the markets in which Kumuka had traded as that is the decision that the directors of Kumuka or as it is formally known Kenlin Ltd made.

Here in Australia the company was trading as Independent Travel Adventures Pty Ltd T/A Kumuka and this is a very important technical point for Australian travel agents caught in the middle of this mess.

If you are a travel agent and you have ended up with a credit card charge back against your merchant facility upon which the consumer has made a claim, you will need to seek compensation from the liquidator as a creditor.

Don’t hold your breath for any money, but you will need to at least make the formal claim. If the invoice on which you paid Kumuka is in favour of Kenlin Ltd, the parent company in London you need to contact UHY Hacker Young LLP (www.uhy-uk.com) in London who has been appointed the liquidator.

If the invoice is in favour of the Australian company Independent Travel Adventures Pty Ltd you need to contact Pitcher Partners (www.pitcher.com.au) as the two entities are being handled by two different accounting firms.
At this stage there has been no formal report or result released on which we can refer or rely so it is a little early to work out what the actual situation is.

But the simple fact is if you are a travel agent in the middle of this collapse which is so often what happens after a third party charge back, you will have to get your files ready to send and no doubt wait. And wait you will as I suspect there will be little to come back to creditors.

As Kumuka was a UK based LTD company the majority of the control of assets and what happens next will fall to the firm in London.

Meanwhile the TCF here in Australia, ATOL (Air Travel Organiers Licence)in the UK, TICO in Canada and generally the credit card companies are left to clear up the mess.

Amazingly if you take a look at www.kumuka.com it refers passengers to the various compensation schemes around the world and the credit card companies. All well and good if you are a consumer to a degree, but serves absolutely in no way the travel agent who is stuck in the middle again!

This once again highlights the total inadequacy of the schemes like the TCF. In part because you have to be one of the “lucky” ones in order to get some form of refund from the scheme, but more over WHO is pursuing the directors of Kenlin Ltd?

They are the people who should be taken to task over leaving behind such a disgraceful global mess and letting down not only the Australian travel industry in such a spectacular way, but so many others around the globe.

Meanwhile the question has to be asked of the TCF – was it Kenlin Ltd or Independent Travel Adventures Pty Ltd?

The answer is the latter which clearly given the global coverage of this entity was nothing short of an irrelevant holding company. The mother ship back in London was the place with all the action and now our scheme and system in Australia in which all of the good operators have so diligently paid into for the past 25 or so years has to carry the can for this incompetence. What a joke.

The more this mess unwinds the more I can see that it is far too easy for a couple of wayward directors to simply through their hands in the air and say “sorry  – so sad, too hard. Contact the compensation scheme in your country of origin and we shall see you the Bermuda triangle”.

Someone needs to track these people down and if not lock them up, at least throw the book that hard at them that they cannot set up again and do it all over again.

As more detail and reports are released there will be more to this story and I hope that we poor uninformed here in Australia will ultimately get the full story. Stay tuned.

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

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