Financial News

  • 5 August 2014, 9:19

Russian Tourists Stranded As Firm Collapses

More than 27,000 Russian tourists have been left stranded abroad after a tour operator became the fourth to collapse in three weeks.

Labirint announced it was halting operations on Saturday, with the Tourhelp service attempting to find seats on flights chartered by other travel companies for stranded passengers.

Tourhelp said: "All the tourists are abroad without return tickets."

Labirint is the fourth Russian travel company to go bust in the past three weeks as the Ukraine crisis was blamed for a slump in bookings for Russians wanting to travel abroad.

A drop in the value of the ruble has also affected tour operators - it has fallen by 11% against the dollar since September last year.

In a statement, Labirint said: "The negative political and economic situation has influenced the number of bookings."

A spokeswoman for Russia's Federal Tourism Agency told Echo of Moscow radio: "We worry that this is only the beginning and that there will be a domino effect."

Russia's federal investigative service said on Monday it was examining the closure of Labirint and another tour operator which failed last month - Neva - over allegations of fraud.

EU sanctions have forced Aeroflot's low-cost airline Dobrolet to suspend operations due to its flights to Crimea.

Western leasing companies cancelled contracts for the carrier's Boeing aircraft after the airline operated flights to the annexed peninsula.

Last month, Crimean Minister of Resorts and Tourism Yelena Yurchenkosaid more than 1,000,000 tourists have visited the peninsula this year.

Russia annexed the mainly Russian-speaking Crimea in March, sparking sanctions from the EU and the US which have been stepped up since the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17on July 17.

All 298 people on board were killed when the plane came down over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine.