Tag: shut

Help! My Travel Agency Shut Down and I’m Out $2,000

Earlier this year, I used STA Travel to book a British Airways flight from Tucson, Ariz., to South Africa, scheduled to depart in March. Then the pandemic hit, one of the flight legs was canceled and I canceled my trip. After some back and forth, STA secured a refund from British Airways. I was told by an STA representative that my airfare — $2,059.36 — would be credited back to my credit card account within 60 days. Two months came and went. Then I learned that STA had gone out of business. Kaitlin

When I first read your email, I was hit with an inkling of hope that your credit card company could rush in and save the day. Still, I set off to learn more about the laws and policies at play, so I did usually do when I start a Tripped Up column: I emailed some industry sources and started a Google Doc to organize my thoughts.

The notes became a rabbit hole, expanding with news coverage of STA’s collapse, a list of potential interview subjects, email addresses for international press offices and lengthy financial documents. From the chicken scratch, one truth emerged: Anyone attempting to recoup funds from an out-of-business company will likely confront uphill battles, tall orders and every other cliché in the book.

“In general, when a company goes into bankruptcy, basically it’s the vultures picking over the bones,” said Ira Rheingold, the executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. “The last people who will get a piece of those bones are going to be the unsecured creditors: the consumers.”

Formerly a major travel agency for youth and student trips, STA Travel filed for bankruptcy in August after a crippling flurry of pandemic-related cancellations; it was the first major travel agency to fall because of the pandemic. Although STA’s Instagram account has been dormant for more than two months, the comments live on as a record of unanswered questions and in-limbo refunds: “I have a student that is needing an update on her refund status and there is literally no way to reach anyone,” wrote one user. “I wonder how many people got robbed of their hard-saved holiday money,” lamented another.

From the start, your case felt like a maze of sharp corners and dead ends. First I visited the STA Travel website: shut down. Then I emailed the customer service agent you had corresponded with: bounceback. When I reached out to the press office of Diethelm Keller Group, STA’s former parent company that is based in Switzerland, and I got the following statement back: “As STA Travel Holding AG is in insolvency proceedings, Diethelm Keller Group is not in a position to provide further support or information.”

I contacted the Arizona Attorney General’s office after discovering one address for STA in Arizona — possibly a franchise — but was told by a spokeswoman that all consumer complaints are confidential.

I considered calling

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EU May Shut Door to Travel From Canada, Allow Singapore Visitors

(Bloomberg) — The European Union plans to remove Canada, Tunisia and Georgia from its list of countries whose residents should be allowed to visit the bloc amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to EU officials familiar with the matter.



a person standing in front of a store: A French soldier stands guard near health workers at the Covid-19 test center in the arrival hall at Charles de Gaulle airport, operated by Airport de Paris, in Roissy, France, on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. The European Union’s battered aviation industry may soon get some relief from the confusingly wide range of travel curbs across the continent, as the bloc’s governments seek agreement on a common threshold for imposing restrictions.


© Bloomberg
A French soldier stands guard near health workers at the Covid-19 test center in the arrival hall at Charles de Gaulle airport, operated by Airport de Paris, in Roissy, France, on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. The European Union’s battered aviation industry may soon get some relief from the confusingly wide range of travel curbs across the continent, as the bloc’s governments seek agreement on a common threshold for imposing restrictions.

The EU intends at the same time to reopen its doors to travelers from Singapore as a result of improved virus trends there, the officials said on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations on Tuesday in Brussels are confidential. The U.S. will remain blacklisted along with most other countries in the world.

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The changes would be the first in more than two months to the EU’s recommended travel “white list,” shrinking it from 11 foreign nations at present to nine. The other eight are Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand and Uruguay.

The update of the list comes amid a resurgence in coronavirus cases in Europe itself and, barring any changes in the plan, is due to be endorsed by EU member-country envoys on Wednesday in the Belgian capital. In a third planned move, which affects the format of the list, the EU aims to identify the Chinese regions of Hong Kong and Macau as separate entities as a result of the bloc’s visa rules, one of the officials said.

Germany’s New Cases Hit Record; India Peak Seen: Virus Update

The EU on July 1 recommended that member states allow foreign visitors from 15 countries as part of a move to loosen coronavirus-triggered restrictions imposed in mid-March on non-essential travel to the bloc.

Since then, Serbia, Montenegro, Algeria and Morocco have been delisted as a result of resurgences in virus cases. The EU normally reviews its list roughly every two weeks, with the last change being the removal of Morocco in the first half of August.

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©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Trudeau Targets More Immigration Even With Borders All But Shut

(Bloomberg) — The Canadian government is sticking to its ambitious plans for bringing newcomers into the country, even as its borders remain essentially closed.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino is leaning against scaling back the government’s immigration targets for the coming years, according to two people familiar with the matter. That includes bringing in 351,000 new permanent residents in 2021 — the most in a century. The government will update its three-year projections within the next month.

Since coming to power in 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has sought to accelerate immigration, a policy that before Covid-19 struck had helped drive the fastest pace of population growth in three decades. Sticking to that policy could be a challenge.



chart, bar chart: Fewer Newcomers


© Bloomberg
Fewer Newcomers

Current travel restrictions and borders closures have sapped the flow of people into Canada. A high unemployment rate that looks likely to persist, and the fact Trudeau’s minority government must rely on support from opposition political parties to pass legislation, pose additional challenges.

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In March, Mendicino unveiled a plan to increase immigration over the next three years — targeting 341,000 permanent residents in 2020, 351,000 in 2021, and 361,000 in 2022.

So far, the 2020 numbers aren’t even close.

Covid Fears

Between January and August, Canada admitted 128,430 permanent residents. If the flow returns to 2019 levels, that number will rise to 240,000, or about 70% of the target, according to Andrew Agopsowicz, an economist at Royal Bank of Canada. But even that may be optimistic.

It “may be possible if people have been delaying their move to Canada,” Agopsowicz said by email. “Of course, increased fears of a Covid resurgence may impact these plans.”

A similar trend has emerged in study permits as well, as international students have largely been unable to travel to Canada.

Mendicino’s office has consulted with various business, labor and settlement organizations to gauge the current demand for immigration. The minister is expected to announce the new targets by Nov. 1, which is the deadline for the department to present its plans before Parliament.

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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National Forests shut down off-highway trails and recreation areas

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — As the COVID-19 outbreak continues and more and more facilities normally used by visitors shut down across Virginia and country, a lot of closures within the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests have been announced.

The national forest lands already shut down all trailhead facilities and access points to the Appalachian Trail in line with CDC and Virginia Department of Health guidance for social distancing.

Prior to that, recreation areas and campgrounds, as well as bathrooms, OHV trails, trail shelters and many day-use areas were closed.

Now, on Wednesday, the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests gave breakdowns of the campgrounds and restroom facilities temporarily closing in the North River Ranger District, as well as all the off-highway trails and developed recreation areas in the Lee Ranger District closing.

The closures are meant to protect the safety of both the public and USDA Forest Service staff, according to the announcement.

National Forest trails and forest roads will remain open for public use, but the Forest Service advises that people follow all social distancing guidelines while hiking or partaking in any activities in the National Forests.

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries says the forest lands remain open for recreational fishing.

They say law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited by COVID-19 as well, so high risk activities like rock climbing should be avoided.

“We realize our communities and our visitors value the recreation opportunities the forest has to offer,” said Joby Timm, George Washington and Jefferson National Forest Supervisor. “A lot of consideration went into this decision. The health and safety of our employees and the public remain our top priority.”

The following facilities in the North River Ranger District are closing:

• Hone Quarry Campground and Day Use Area
• North River Campground
• Brandywine Campground and Day Use Area
• Todd Lake Campground and Day Use Area
• Shaws Fork Equestrian Campground
• Camp Run Campground
• Briery Branch Day Use Area
• Elkhorn Lake Day Use Area
• Staunton Dam Picnic Area
• Blue Hole Day Use Area
• Braley Pond Day Use Area
• Mountain House Day Use Area
• Hite Hollow Shooting Range
• West Side Shooting Range
• August Springs Wetlands Interpretive Trail Restroom
• Confederate Breastworks Restroom

The following facilities in the Lee Ranger District are closing:

• Peters Mill Run/Taskers Gap OHV Trail Complex
• Wolf Gap Campground and Picnic Area
• Little Fort Campground
• Elizabeth Furnace Family Campground, Day Use Area and Group Camp
• Camp Roosevelt Campground and Picnic Area
• Trout Pond Recreation Campground, Day Use Area, and Rockcliff Lake
• Hawk Campground and Group Camp
• Lions Tale National Recreation Trail Restroom

Campgrounds and picnic shelters are temporarily unavailable for reservation on Recreation.gov. Anyone who already had a reservation will be notified and refunds will be processed.

However, those refunds, like many refunds right now, may be delayed due to the volume of cancellations.

The national forests say

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