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Bulgarian tour operator faces insolvency after payment row

Bulgarian tour operator Alma Tour, whose payment row with an air carrier left hundreds of Russian and Scandinavian tourists stranded last month, is facing an insolvency claim, a Sofia court said Friday.

The claim was launched on Friday by Central Cooperative Bank, one of the two major creditors of the tour operator, which has outstanding debts of some 13.2 million euros (17.7 million dollars).

Alma Tour’s air transport branch Alma Tour Fly meanwhile filed its own insolvency claim on Thursday over its huge debt to air carrier Bulgaria Air and Greece’s Emporiki bank, the Sofia city court said.

Hundreds of Russian, Scandinavian and Baltic tourists were stranded in September at Bulgaria’s Black Sea airports of Varna and Burgas as Bulgaria Air cancelled their flights over Alma Tour’s unpaid debts.

Alma Tour’s partners in the respective countries were forced to pay again for charters to bring their clients home.

Bulgarian national radio reported that holidaymakers were now seeking some 200,000 leva (102,000 euros, $138,000) in damages from the company, which stopped operating in end-September.