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GPS Tour: "We will leave no one behind, we have the means to keep going!"

Interview with Antonio Duarte, CEO of GPS Tour


Following his meeting in Paris with his fellow stakeholders, we met with Antonio Duarte and his spokesperson. Despite difficult times, the Portuguese TO is resisting and insists on being able to fulfill its obligations. The Portuguese trade court will give on Friday its verdict on the application for placement under the Restructuring Plan (*).
Finally (adding to the series of misfortune?) a new incident affected a group of 50 clients from Latitudes Extreme whose luggage were held “hostage” by an angry transfer agent who did not get paid by GPS Tour...



TourMaG.com - How was yesterday's meeting with fellow Tour Operators?

Antonio Duarte, owner of GPS Tour, at the Top Resa 2010, surrounded by Dora Antonio the Algarve representative and Anabela Antonio Technical Manager - Photo DR
Antonio Duarte, owner of GPS Tour, at the Top Resa 2010, surrounded by Dora Antonio the Algarve representative and Anabela Antonio Technical Manager - Photo DR
Antonio Duarte. "Pretty good. They appreciated our initiative and we explained the situation bluntly.

Mainly the fact that if they do not pay on time we cannot maintain the flight chain.

The representatives that we met yesterday agreed to support us by reducing the settlement time.

It should not exceed one week now.

It is important to note that we sometimes receive up to 1.5 million euros in commitment per week and one rotation can go up to 350 000 euros. It is therefore vital."

TM.com - What are your overall commitments in France and do you have a lot of assets abroad?

AD: "This year it accounts for 25,000 passengers. We had 36,000 passengers in 2013 for a turnover of €31 million.

Indeed, we have a lot of money outside and just looking at the online agencies that represents €1 million!”

TM.com - How did you get in this situation and how do you intend to resolve it?

AD: "We'll start by trimming down and especially with our dependence on major online agencies.

They will not exceed 10% by volume of our activity against 35% today.

We will ask for faster payments than what we have now (90 days after the customer feedback, ed) and focus on tours that mirror the current strength of our production."

TM.com - Tomorrow, you have an important deadline at the Portuguese Commercial Court because you asked to be placed under the Restructuring Plan (*). What will happen if the judges do not go in your favor?

AD: "We are 99% sure that our business restructuring plan will be approved.

In the worst case scenario, we have a cash safety box for two months to find a solution.”

T.M.com - What do your creditors have to say about that?

AD: "Our biggest supplier, the Portuguese Tejo Group which provides all the land transport has renewed its confidence. This reassures us.

Then, it is true that we owe money to some hotel owners and hospitality clients, but we hope to quickly fix the situation."

TM.com - Precisely, we were told that on Thursday fifty customers were stranded in Cape Verde by a transfer agent who had not been paid?

AD: "Yes, I am aware of the situation. This unfortunate event coincided with our meeting with Tour Operators but I sent 5000 euros immediately to resolve the situation…

This provider has taken hostage the bags of passengers, this is unacceptable, but we'll solve with the situation today."

TMcom - Why has the situation at GPS Tour deteriorated so badly in just a few months?

AD: "The problems with Windavia, the White Airways air broker, our main carrier, hit us hard. They owe us more than €300,000.

Then my words in the Portuguese press concerning the difficulties with had with the provider were twisted to make me look like a scapegoat, so I did not get the support of other tour operators who also worked in Portugal.”

Cape Verde: 50 clients of Latitudes Extreme had their luggage held hostage

A client of GPS Tour, Extreme Latitudes found itself with a group of 50 people in Cape Verde prohibited from getting their luggage since Tuesday evening. The unpaid provider in charge of baggage transfers held "hostage" the customers’ luggage to put pressure on the Portuguese receptive. The travelers finally retrieved their belongings on Thursday at 5pm.

Marc Parlouer, manager of Extreme Latitudes is angry at GPS Tour.

50 people currently in Cape Verde have been deprived of their suitcases for more than 48 hours between Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at 9am to Thursday, May 15, 2014 5pm.

Without their belongings and their medications, the customers could have filed a complaint on the spot, according to Mark Parlouer.

"We suspect that the provider in charge of transfers has not been paid by GPS Tour. So he decided to hold my clients’ baggage hostage.

This has been extremely difficult situation to manage, our clients found themselves without their belongings, and for some, dangerously, without their medications, or their contact lenses, even some without their passports.

We told the SNAV and APST about this situation.

In response, Antonio Duarte explained that the car had broken down, and it had missed the ferry. And now he has not been reachable since Wednesday night. He does not answer calls, SMS, or emails.

We no longer have the sound or image, and I am appalled to read the testimonies of my fellow TOs.

Customers finally retrieved their luggage at 5pm on Thursday.

This is not the only problem we encountered; customers were also forced to repay the visas on the spot, even though we had paid them in advance.

Antonio Duarte blamed it on a computer problem and promised to repay these fees by Friday May 16th.

Two days before the group's departure, he also told us that the company had canceled a rotation and that the return was scheduled for Saturday instead of Sunday, cutting the trip one night short...

Getting tricked with the visas and the scheduled flights was borderline. But the luggage crisis is the straw that broke the camel's back.”


Written by Jean Da Luz and Celine Eymery translated by Joséphine Foucher the 18/05/2014
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