Liquidators may require funding to untangle STA Travel claims

STA Travel has been using New Zealand customers' deposits for overseas holidays to cover company...
STA Travel has been using New Zealand customers' deposits for overseas holidays to cover company wages and office rent. Photo: File / Getty Images
Additional funding may be required to try and recover creditor claims in the liquidation of budget travel agent STA Travel, which shut down owing more than $11 million.

Liquidators from Deloitte, David Webb and Colin Owens, said investigations were required to establish the standing of customer refunds with airlines and third-party suppliers and identify any assets that could be realised for the benefit of creditors.

"Some of these ongoing investigations and actions may require liquidation funding due to the lack of funds held by, or due to, the company," they said in their first report.

A statement of company affairs revealed the business had assets of $34,000, the bulk of which was bank funding. Unsecured creditors are owed $11.14m, while preferential creditors are owed $439,000.

STA operated from a number of sites in New Zealand but its stores were closed on August 20 following the collapse of its overseas parent company due to the impacts of Covid-19.

Creditors voted on September 28 to place the company into liquidation after voluntary administrators were appointed on August 25.

"Because the international STA group has run a global treasury and finance function, this has meant that a lot of the necessary data and information have been difficult to secure," the administrators, also from Deloitte, said last month.

Deloitte continues to explore options under Government schemes to see what further support might be made available "to affected parties".

Last month the Herald reported how travel agents getting Government support could help New Zealanders caught up in the collapse of STA Travel, but they said it would be complex chasing up funds for clients of another business.

Hundreds of New Zealanders who booked through STA are out of pocket by tens of thousands of dollars.

Under an incentive scheme announced in September, agents will be paid up to $47.6m to chase up an estimated $690m held by suppliers overseas.

Flight Centre NZ managing director David Coombes was part of an industry group that negotiated with the Government and said customers of STA, now in administration, could benefit from wider sector expertise.

"My view is right now that this is firmly in the hands of creditors — nobody would be able to step in without the data and there are privacy issues, but there would be a willingness in the industry to talk to creditors and see if there is a way we could get through this," he told the Herald.

"If they think there is a pathway to utilise who is viable in the agency sector to reach out [but] it's a complicated issue."








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