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Most customers whose travel plans were cancelled amid Usit liquidation will be able to claim refunds

The company’s online operations have been bought by a previous CEO and shareholder.

File photo
File photo
Image: Gareth Chaney/Photocall Ireland!

THE VAST MAJORITY of people whose travel plans were cancelled after Usit went into liquidation in March will be able to claim refunds after the company’s online operations were bought.

The joint liquidators, Kieran Wallace and Andrew O’Leary of KPMG, today confirmed that the Usit brand and its online operations have been purchased by GenTAO Ltd, a company owned by previous Usit CEO Elaine Russell and former shareholder David Andrews.

The Kinlay Group, which operated Usit Ireland and the English Studio, went into liquidation in late March, citing “the tsunami of effects related to the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Usit, which specialises in student travel, volunteer and work abroad programmes, employed 76 people in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick.

In a statement issued this evening, the liquidators said they expect that “around 98%” of people who had bookings cancelled would be able to claim refunds.

They said the sale of the company will give students and young travellers “the opportunity to experience the J1 and Camp programmes in the US, along with working holidays in Canada and Australia”.

Four bids

There were 19 expressions of interest in the company’s assets from Irish and international parties, the liquidators said, adding that four bids were eventually made.

“In relation to customers who had bookings with Usiy for this year’s programmes which are now unable to take place because of the global pandemic, it is likely that the vast majority, circa 98%, will be able to claim refunds either via credit or debit card bookings, or via the consumer protection scheme which supports bonded travel agents,” the statement noted.

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Commenting on the sale, Andrews said: “We were conscious that Usit, up until the Covid-19 crisis hit, had been a profitable business for many years, but regretfully it wasn’t possible to separate it out from the necessary liquidation process.”

Russell added that they “expect a quiet summer this year due to the travel restrictions in place, however, we anticipate that we will be creating jobs in the sector as customer demand returns”.

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Órla Ryan

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