An Australian online travel booking agency has entered voluntary administration, leaving hundreds of travelers in the dark about their vacation plans.
The Sydney-based company Fly365 was put in contact with the volunteer administrator on Friday, closing their website and Facebook page immediately afterwards, causing confusion among vacationers who had paid for the company for travel services.
The booking agency website is no longer functional and the app has also been closed. For customers who have attempted to contact the hotline, they are simply greeted with an automatic voicemail alerting callers that “the Australian contact center is currently closed”.
Melbourne resident Stevie Somers – who had spent a total of $ 11,000 on booking flights to Europe for himself, his partner and their family – was one of hundreds unsure of what will happen to their reservation, which is was made with Fly365 earlier this month.
Somers says he was trying to choose his seat assignment when his reservation number failed. After trying to contact the Fly365 customer service center, he also hit a dead end.
In response to the crash, Somers has created a Facebook support group for other travelers who may be displaced by the sudden arrest of Fly365.
Since its inception, the group has more than 650 members, many of whom may have been out of pocket for thousands of dollars.
A Facebook user, Ms. Lee, who joined the support group to look for answers on behalf of her parents who had used the online travel agency to book flights with Singapore Airlines, said that while the payment is was received by Fly365, the funds were never given to Singapore Airlines.
“My parents’ booking was made on December 28, 2019 and paid for on the same day at Fly365,” Lee wrote on the group’s page.
“They received a tax bill from Fly365 and the booking confirmation documents that indicate” You’re ready to fly “above.
“(However) Fly365 has NOT confirmed the booking with Singapore Airline within 72 hours (3 days) of the booking. Fly365 also did NOT pay Singapore airline.
“After 72 hours, the Singapore airline automatically canceled the reservation, so no tickets were issued.”
Lee said that since Singapore Airlines has not received notifications about Fly365’s liquidation, it could be forced to wait weeks for an airline response on the status of its parents’ funds.
“I will not wait until next week to pursue this goal with the credit card company, since it is clear that my parents do not have and will not receive what they have paid for,” he wrote.
“I intend to pursue this today … Good luck to everyone.”
Another Facebook user said that the whole situation is “frightening”.
“So many people who lose their money are frightening,” wrote a group member on the group page.
Another member of the group said that his reservation was “canceled automatically” after the Fly365 failed to pay for the ticket with the airline.
“I immediately spoke to the (bank) ANZ, who informed me that he had received many calls in this regard and to file a dispute and to send the reference number by e-mail,” he explained.
“ANZ said that if I made a chargeback and the tickets were honored, the chargeback will fail and I would lose my $ 3600. If the tickets are honored I would not need the chargeback. It’s like the last Catch-22. “
The Australian Travel Agent Federation said it had not received any notice before the flight dealer entered administration.
“This is a very unfortunate situation and AFTA firmly believes that circumstances contributing beyond the control of AFTA and ATTA (AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme) have led to this result,” said AFTA CEO Jayson Westbury, in a note to news.com .au
“AFTA does everything in its power to monitor and review travel companies that hold ATAS accreditation and for the most part this has allowed AFTA to predict certain results – but on this occasion, unfortunately, the AFTA was unable to provide early support to the company prior to its bankruptcy or predict this outcome.
“While the liquidation process is to take its course, AFTA is undertaking a much more thorough review of the situation and a further revision of the ATAS system will be seriously considered as it applies to online travel agents in Australia.”
News.com.au was unable to contact Fly365 directly, and the liquidators Roger and Carson Pty Limited, who act for the company, have not yet responded to a request for comment.
Fly365 is just the latest in a series of online booking companies to collapse. In January 2019, dozens of Australians were outraged after Bestjet went into liquidation shortly before Christmas.
British travel company Thomas Cook also collapsed in September 2019 leaving hundreds of thousands of travelers stranded around the world.
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