Helloworld agency goes into liquidation

Helloworld agency goes into liquidation

Travel Rockhampton, an ATAS-accredited Helloworld associate agency ceased trading on 5 May, only a day before a Victorian-based ATAS agency closed its doors leaving travellers in the lurch.

Helloworld head of Associate and Affiliate Networks, David Padman said a liquidator was appointed on 22 May to deal with the fallout, but no customers’ travel plans had been disrupted by the closure.

“Once we were advised of the situation, we immediately implemented our Customer Protection procedures to ensure any inconvenience to customers was minimised and that their travel plans were not disrupted,” Padman told Travel Weekly.

“The robust processes and procedures we have in place under our Customer Protection and Insurance framework have worked well, with all customers contacted and supported by another agency within our network.”

“No customers’ travel plans have been disrupted and all travel plans have proceeded as booked.”

“We have no other information regarding Travel Rockhampton,” Padman said.

The news follows last week’s announcement that ATAS-accredited CTS Travel, not affiliated in any way with Helloworld, ceased trading on 4 May and has since appointed a liquidator. ATAS said of CTS Travel “we believe [circumstances around its liquidation] relate to matters that require police investigation”. 

While the Helloworld Customer Protection Insurance covers customers of members of the fully branded and associate networks, CTS Travel clients were left thousands of dollars out of pocket as it did not have any similar protection scheme in place and reportedly had not appropriately transferred client funds to suppliers.

At the time of reporting the CTS Travel closure, ATAS general manager, Gary O’Riordan last week told Travel Weekly “this is the first agent affected in almost 11 months of trading in the deregulated environment”.

O’Riordan today admitted ATAS was aware there were “issues” with Rockhampton Travel’s operations at the time of commenting on the CTS case, however says the “full circumstance of what happened” to the agency and its clients had only been brought to light this morning.

“CTS is currently under investigation by the liquidator and regarding Rockhampton Travel, there is no consumer detriment,” O’Riordan told Travel Weekly.

When questioned whether it would be prudent for ATAS to make members of the agency community aware of closures in a similar vein of TCF notifications, O’Riordan re-emphasised the role of ATAS being “different” to that of the disbanded TCF, and that it is an accreditation scheme, not a compensation fund.

“ATAS is not the TCF and our role is quite different,” he said.

A third travel company based in the Gold Coast, believed not to be ATAS accredited, Getaway Escapes and its subsidiary AusFlights, has also been placed under liquidation earlier this year after reportedly conning customers by selling discount flights and accommodation vouchers over the phone.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) on 4 March warned customers to confirm travel arrangements after the sudden closure of both companies, via a statement on its website.

 “Often when this type of business goes into liquidation, some customers believe they have booked and paid for travel, but find those arrangements have not been processed through to the travel and accommodation providers,” Fair Trading executive director Brian Bauer said in a statement on the OFT website.

“Unfortunately, once the liquidation process begins, this often means any payments made can’t be recovered.”

 AFTA/ATAS did not comment with regards to the Getaway case.

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

    Latest comments
    1. Absolutely hilarious, now Helloworld is saying ATAS is not TCF and yet imposed in an arbitrary manner that its members are ATAS accredited, all this to find out that it makes no difference!!! Higher management will always make me laugh !!

afta Agency Closure atas CTS Travel gary oriordan helloworld Liqudation Rockhampton Travel tcf travel agents travel compensation fund

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