Court to decide distribution of refunds to STA Travel customers

STA Travels liquidators are off to court to decide how to distribute refunds to creditors owed more than $10 million.
Deloitte said it had secured external funding outside the liquidation to cover the legal cost of applying to the court for directions on how to distribute available money.

It was unable to say when the case might proceed or when any funds might be available to 1000-plus creditors, some of whom were left thousands of dollars out of pocket after the travel agency collapsed last year.

Deloitte said funds received from the International Air Travel Association (IATA) and a small number of airlines were being held in trust until there was a court decision.

* Court may decide fate of money owed to STA Travel customers
* STA Travel liquidated owing $11m to Kiwi creditors
* STA Travel used customers' deposits to cover staff wages and office rent
* More bad news for travellers as STA Travel's debts surpass $10m

Hamish McNeilly/Stuff
STA Travels lay-by offers were a big attraction for young travellers who could make a $99 deposit and pay their tickets off over time.

Various other airlines have advised that they are dealing with affected customers directly and will not be remitting funds to the liquidators.

Deloitte said it had previously told affected customers to go to the airline they had a booking with to get an idea of their position, and that advice still stood.

The delay in getting refunds resolved is frustrating for STA Travel creditors like Heidi Myra who is owed just under $10,000, and she is angry the issue was now set to go through a lengthy legal process when Deloitte had already made it clear there was little chance of recovering funds.

The whole process since STA went silent in July 2020 has been an exercise in hopelessness. Once Deloittes got involved it became confusing and hopeless, stretched out to cause maximum stress and anxiety.

STA Travel has been using New Zealand customers' deposits for overseas holidays to cover company wages and office rent, Checkpoint can reveal.

Some customers who paid via credit card have successfully done chargebacks to recoup outstanding money, but having paid by bank transfer, Myra did not have that option.

Some of us saved, and don't buy things on credit, and have been punished for that.

Wellington customer James Burchett is also in that category, and he lost a $1600 deposit for a trip to the UK when STA Travel folded.

He had delayed his departure because of the global pandemic and said it was lucky he had not paid the balance of his almost $10,000 travel bill.

Burchett is also less than impressed with the lack of communication from Deloitte which refers creditors to a situs page on STA Travel that was last updated in mid-December.

They use business jargon that the average Joe doesnt understand, and pass you off to the next person. There are no straight answers, its a mess.


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