European charter airlines operating out of Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands will be counting the costs after Germany's FTI Touristik GmbH, parent of Europe's third largest tour operator FTI Group, announced it had filed for bankruptcy on June 3 at the District Court of Munich.

In a statement, the company said only the tour operator brand FTI Touristik would be directly affected immediately. However, additional bankruptcy applications will be filed subsequently by other firms in the group.

On the insolvency portal, the company clarified that all services booked with FTI Touristik were affected. This included the FTI brands in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands, the 5vorFlug brand in Germany, BigXtra Touristik, and the car hire brands DriveFTI, Cars&Campers, and Meeting Point Rent-a-Car.

Services booked with third-party providers such as TUI Group, Alltours, Dertour, and vtours via any of the websites operated by FTI Touristik were not affected. Windrose Finest Travel, with the luxury brand Windrose, will continue its business.

FTI Touristik said it was prioritising support for travellers affected by the insolvency, having opened a support website and hotline for assistance. Efforts are underway to ensure ongoing trips covered by the statutory insurance cover of the German Travel Security Fund (Deutscher Reisesicherungsfonds - DRSF) can proceed as planned. A return journey to the original departure point will be organised where this is impossible. Trips starting after June 4 may be "disrupted", the company said, adding it was working with an insolvency administrator to develop a plan to inform travellers and implement necessary measures.

According to Germany's Die Zeit newspaper, up to 65,000 holidaymakers currently travelling with FTI Touristik could be affected. It reported that the German federal government did not anticipate a need for a large-scale state repatriation effort for German tourists - unlike after Thomas Cook Group's bankruptcy in 2019 - because the DRSF insured most of the package tours sold by FTI Touristik. The travel insurance fund has assured that it will not abandon package holidaymakers in destinations affected by FTI's insolvency, according to the German Foreign Office.

Charter carriers expected to be hit as the European summer season approaches are Condor, SunExpress, Corendon Airlines, SmartLynx Airlines, and Marabu.

A Condor spokesperson said the company regrets the developments at FTI. "Condor and FTI have been working together for years. Recently, the volume of contingents has decreased, which is why it can be assumed that the gap created by FTI's insolvency will also be closed by the market in the short term. However, we do not comment on the detailed capacities of FTI at Condor."

"Like all other airlines, Condor is not allowed to fly travellers who have booked a now-cancelled package tour with FTI Touristik to their vacation destination. However, all guests can take their booked return flight as planned. Condor will bring all guests back home," the spokesperson said.

A SunExpress spokesperson confirmed it would bring all its affected passengers home in the coming days in accordance with the requirements of the DRSF while those travelling after June 4 had already been notified by FTI that their trip had been cancelled. "Unfortunately, we are not allowed to transport these guests on the instructions of FTI Touristik. We will be able to provide more information on trips with planned departure dates from June 5 onwards as soon as we have received the details from FTI Touristik," she said.

"Irrespective of this, the insolvency of FTI Touristik has no impact on our general flight plans," she stated. "We will maintain our offered seat capacity for travel to both Türkiye and Egypt to ensure access to these popular vacation destinations. SunExpress is also prepared to provide additional capacity in the event of increased demand. We are in close contact with our sales partners in this regard.”

When asked for comment, Marabu deferred to Condor as it works as its General Sales Agent. ch-aviation reached out to each of the other charter carriers for comment.

Explaining its situation, FTI Touristik said: "After a lengthy and complex investor process, the entry of a consortium of investors was announced in April 2024. Since then, however, booking figures have fallen short of expectations despite the positive news. In addition, numerous suppliers have insisted on advance payment. As a result, there was an increased need for liquidity, which could no longer be bridged until the closing of the investor process. Therefore, the filing for insolvency has become necessary for legal reasons," the company explained in a statement.

German newspaper Bild reported the Munich-based company was already in crisis before the Covid-19 pandemic. It was kept afloat thanks to EUR595 million euros (USD647 million) from the federal government's economic stabilisation fund (Wirtschaftsstabilisierungsfonds - WSF) and an additional EUR280 million (USD304 million) from UniCredit Bank, backed by guarantees from the federal government and the state of Bavaria.

In mid-April, hope flared for the tour operator's rescue when US investor Certares announced plans to buy the company, assume its debt estimated at around EUR1 billion (USD1.08 billion), and inject an additional EUR125 million (USD136 million) in fresh capital. However, delays in finalising the takeover meant FTI Touristik was unable to sustain operations.

Founded in 1983, FTI Touristik reportedly employs 11,000 people across 90 subsidiaries globally. In the 2022-23 financial year, the group reported sales of EUR4.1 billion (USD4.4 billion).