MUNICH (dpa-AFX) - Following the bankruptcy of Europe's third-largest tour operator, the provisional insolvency administrator's top priority is to support the approximately 60,000 holidaymakers who are currently traveling with FTI. "We are making every effort to ensure that travelers can complete their vacations and return home safely and as planned," said insolvency expert Axel Bierbach on Wednesday. So far, this process has been very structured and largely orderly. Contact persons from the company are available for FTI customers in the event of any problems on site; FTI has set up a hotline for customer inquiries.

According to Bierbach, the trips of FTI customers who wanted to depart in the coming days will have to be canceled, as a smooth process in the destination countries cannot be guaranteed. This applies to all trips booked via FTI Touristik GmbH up to and including Monday, June 10.

Search for solutions for trips after June 10

Solutions are currently being sought for trips after this date. "We are working hard to explore all possibilities to have the booked trips carried out as planned by other travel providers from the earliest possible date," said Bierbach. Talks are underway. "We hope to find a solution for trips from July 1 at the latest."

Bierbach confirmed that all customer payments for package tours booked via FTI Touristik GmbH are covered by the German Travel Security Fund (DRSF). Package tour customers would not have to worry about losing money as a result of the insolvency. The DRSF will also refund any advance payments made by package tour customers if it is not possible to carry out these trips. The proportion of package tour bookings at FTI is reportedly more than 90 percent.

Salaries initially secured via insolvency compensation

Bierbach intends to inform the affected employees shortly about the current situation and the next steps planned. The wages and salaries of the approximately 843 employees of the insolvent company have been paid until the end of May. For June up to and including August, the employees are covered by the insolvency substitute benefits.

The provisional insolvency administrator intends to examine all options as to whether and in what form the insolvent company can continue as a going concern, including the possibility of selling business units. FTI Touristik GmbH, the parent company of the FTI Group, filed for insolvency at Munich Local Court on Monday. Other group companies would follow, the company announced. The group has a total of around 11,000 employees.

1250 employees fear for their jobs

According to the joint works council of FTI Touristik, BigXtra Touristik, Ticketshop and Kairaba Lounge, the insolvency filing came as a complete surprise. More than 1,250 employees at the Munich and Berlin sites are now fearing for their jobs, according to works council chairman Johannes Reinders.

The vacation airlines Eurowings and Condor consider the economic consequences of the insolvency of the tour operator FTI to be manageable. They are currently awaiting decisions from the insolvency administrator, said a Lufthansa Eurowings spokesperson in Koln on Wednesday. The reserved seats could not be marketed again before then. "We assume that the gap created by the insolvency of FTI will also be closed by the market in the short term," explained a Condor spokeswoman. To this end, tour operators such as Tui have already launched special sales campaigns.

According to the Federal Cartel Office, the planned entry of the US financial investor Certares into the now insolvent travel group FTI has not been notified to it under merger control law. "Why the merger project was not notified to the Federal Cartel Office is beyond our knowledge," the competition authorities announced on Wednesday in response to an inquiry. The business magazine "Capital" had previously reported on this. In mid-April, FTI announced that a consortium led by Certares had signed an agreement on the takeover of the group and its financing and would control the company in future. The planned takeover was intended to secure the future of the ailing group./mar/DP/stw