Close to 200 people will lose their jobs while thousands of young students who wanted to see the world are instead out of pocket as the coronavirus pandemic claims another travel industry victim.
STA Travel started out as a student travel agency and specialised in trips and deals for people under 26.
The company was founded by two returned travellers in Melbourne in 1979, originally as Student Travel Australia, then branded Student Travel Association and Start The Adventure as it expanded globally.
STA Travel was owned by a holding company based in Switzerland and had 35 shops in the UK and 27 in Australia before it entered insolvency this week.
Earlier this year, Australia’s consumer watchdog ordered the company to pay $14 million in fines for misleading customers.
Deloitte is now undertaking an “urgent assessment” of the company’s finances to see if it can be restructured or sold.
Deloitte joint voluntary administrator Jason Tracy told the ABC “this will be a stressful time for all involved, and in particular customers and employees”.
“We will be communicating with them as soon as possible as we assess and understand the situation, and options going forward.”
“The collapse of STA Travel in Australia and New Zealand is certainly related to trading conditions caused by the pandemic, and has been preceded by its Swiss holding company recently filing for insolvency,” Mr Tracy said.
Around 180 Australians were employed full-time by STA Travel.
Brisbane woman Trinity Rafferty told the ABC she’d been trying to get more than $10,000 refunded from STA for a trip to Europe she booked in September last year that she’ll likely never get to go on.
She was only offered a travel voucher valid for 12 months after restrictions on travel were imposed in March.