Airline draws battle lines with Thomas Cook

16th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

16 February 2005, AMSTERDAM — Embattled airline HollandExel has lodged a damages claim against tour operator Thomas Cook, demanding it pay tens of millions of euros for breach of contract.

16 February 2005

AMSTERDAM — Embattled airline HollandExel has lodged a damages claim against tour operator Thomas Cook, demanding it pay tens of millions of euros for breach of contract.

HollandExel has hovered on the edge of bankruptcy in recent weeks, relying on a cash injection to ward off an application being lodged for debt protection, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.

Travel bureau TUI proved its saviour in the short term with its injection of millions of euros into the company, but Thomas Cook broke off its business relationship with HollandExel. The airline is now demanding compensation.

Thomas Cook's departure meant the airline and TUI were left with empty seats on holiday flights. In a bid to fill the seats, TUI is offering holiday packages at sharply reduced prices.

Exel claims that Thomas Cook unlawfully broke its contract in the Netherlands and Belgium, but the travel company claims it did nothing wrong.

"We used a clause in the contract that specified we could dissolve the contract in the event HollandExel applied for suspension of payments to creditors," a spokeswoman said.

HollandExel and TUI are now discussing a takeover and HollandExel director Harm Prins said discussions are proceeding "very well". The talks are now in final stages. "Moreover, we have sufficient means to continue flying in coming months," he said.

But a bigger problem is AirExel, which has scrapped its flights from Maastricht and Eindhoven due to financial problems. Prins has said the airline will land on its feet.

He said the situation was hopeless several months ago, but the company has progressed a long way. AirExel is now discussing a takeover bid with investors.

Both HollandExel and AirExel are part of the ExelAviationGroup (EAG) of businessman Erik de Vlieger. Amid controversial judicial investigations into his business dealings, De Vlieger recently said EAG would be forced to apply for debt protection soon.

A storm of protest erupted and the interim director of EAG, Bart Drechsel, resigned, saying he could no longer work with De Vlieger, whose comments threatened a capital injection in the company.

De Vlieger has also opted to bow out of the business world by selling his aviation, real estate and media interests, bundled together as the Imca Group. He claims negative press and criminal inquiries have made it impossible for him to continue in business.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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