ABTA victim of airline’s collapse

Travel agent watchdog the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) found itself a victim of an airline collapse last week.

The industry trade association had booked 120 seats for its annual conference in South Africa next month, with start-up Avia Airlines. The airline went into liquidation two weeks ago, only three months after its launch.

A spokesman for ABTA says it chose to book some of the conference delegates seats with the new airline, taking advantage of Avia’s low fares to Johannesburg, which started at 499 return. ABTA has managed to move its bookings to British Airways and South African Airways. It described the situation as an “inconvenience”, but has lost no money.

Avia, which set up in May with a policy of undercutting rival fares by about 15 per cent on the London to Johannesburg direct route, was the brainchild of its South African chairman and founder Gert de Klerk.