ABTA director Steven Freudmann has described calls for his resignation as ‘unreasonable’ but says he will abide by the board’s decision.
Suppliers owed money by failed company Unpackaged Holidays, the assets of which has been bought by The Travel Club of Upminster in a pre-packaged sale, have demanded Freudmann resign from his position on the ABTA board. Assets include bed bank Seligo, which has continued to trade under new ownership.
Freudmann is non-executive chairman of Alpha Prospects, which has an option to buy The Travel Club, and stepped down as a director of Unpackaged Holidays prior to the company going into administration.
Freudmann, who is ABTA’s longest-standing director and is also a former ABTA president, said: “I had nothing to do with the management of the Unpackaged group and was three stages removed from it, and it seems to me calls for my resignation are unreasonable.”
But he added: “Clearly I will abide by anything that the board of ABTA decides. I would not want to embarrass the association or bring it any bad publicity.”
The ABTA board meets next Friday. A spokeswoman said: “The board will look at the circumstances around the failure of Unpackaged Holidays and decide whether any steps need to be taken.”
Some consortia head offices, rather than individual ABTA agent members, are owed small amounts of money in terms of marketing support by Unpackaged Holidays. But Freudmann said it was “hundreds”of pounds compared to tens of thousands owed to creditors, including ground handlers, suppliers and hoteliers.
“They [consortia] are owed peanuts; ABTA members as such are not owed a penny and all bookings have been protected,” he said.
Creditors remained unrepentant. Lowcost Travel Group’s transfer company Resorthoppa, which is owed nearly £80,000 in past and future bookings, is an ABTA travel partner rather than a member.
Group chief executive Paul Evans said: “How come the money is there to acquire the assets of Unpackaged Holidays but not to pay past creditors? It brings ABTA into disrepute.”
Alpha Prospects raised £850,000 last year to buy travel companies, and is itself one of the creditors, owed £500,000 by Unpackaged Holidays. It plans to buy The Travel Club within the next few months.
Freudmann argued Alpha Prospects could not legally bail out creditors as it does not own Unpackaged Holidays. “Only Unpackaged Holidays can pay out, which is no longer an option; it’s not legally possible,” he added.
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