MediaToday
News | Wednesday, 08 April 2009

Air Malta subsidiary sues bankrupt Irish tour operator for €1.3m

Charlot Zahra

A subsidiary company of national airline Air Malta – Holiday Malta Company Limited – has filed a claim for damage of €1.3 million against the owner of Irish travel agency which went bankrupt in January last year, Business Today has learnt.
In its lawsuit, which was heard in front of the Irish Commercial Court on 24 March 2009, Holiday Malta claimed that Robert Evans “had diverted large sums due to it to his own accounts or to accounts controlled by him” and also “failed to honour agreements to put in place securities over properties”.
Judge Peter Kelly agreed to adjourn to this month to allow lawyers for the defendant to consider whether to apply to have a court-appointed guardian to him.
Asked to confirm the whether the Air Malta subsidiary had filed this lawsuit against Don Lagohaire Travel Limited, a spokesperson for Air Malta, the parent company of HM, confirmed this.
He explained that Company “was claiming the payment of €1,318,707 representing trade debts, specific performance of agreements existing between the parties, damages, interest and costs”.
Asked as to what kind of commercial relationship existed between the Irish travel agency and HM and for how long, the Air Malta spokesperson told Business Today that the relationship only ended last November after more than 16 years.
“Lagohaire Travel Limited had been appointed by the Company as its General Sales Agent in the Republic of Ireland on 1 April 1993 and this appointment was terminated in November 2008,” the Air Malta spokesperson told BT.
Air Malta, however, skirted questions asked by BT as to whether Holiday Malta could detect early signs of bankruptcy from Dan Lagohaire’s end, and whether HM was confident of winning the court case against the Irish travel company.
Industry sources told Business Today that since Holiday Malta had appointed Dun Lagohaire Travel as their agent for Ireland, all payments pertaining to hotel bookings, taxis and excursions, among other things, would be received from the Irish travel agent to pay for costs incurred by HM.
However, it seemed that in this case, Dun Lagohaire had not paid HM for the services booked on behalf its behalf by the Air Malta subsidiary company by the time the Irish company went into bankruptcy.
The sources added that despite the fact that Dun Lagohaire had not paid HM for the bookings made on its behalf, HM would still be liable to pay for the travel services booked for the Irish tour operator.
That was the reason why Holiday Malta was, in turn, suing Dun Lagohaire for such a huge sum.

czahra@mediatoday.com.mt

 

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08 April 2009
ISSUE NO. 577

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