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Avianova Has Reimbursement Problem

Defunct budget airline Avianova may fail in a commitment to reimburse 17,000 ticket holders whose flights were canceled when the company ended operations in October.

At the time, majority shareholder A1, the investment arm of Alfa Group, promised to set aside money to refund about 53,000 tickets that had been sold before it packed up operations.

Avianova had already paid back just under 50 percent of the cash it owes by Nov. 14, Vedomosti reported Thursday, citing a company presentation it claimed to have seen.

But the bulk of that was accounted for by 51.34 million rubles ($1.63 million) it had paid back to customers who bought tickets by credit card. That left 1.74 million rubles in credit card purchases outstanding at the time, according to figures cited by the paper.

Avianova also owes 50.5 million rubles to customers who bought tickets through travel agents and terminals, and at least 17,000 of them might never get their money back, the paper reported, citing a spokesperson who said such refunds are much more difficult than crediting money back to credit cards. To make matters worse, the call center and e-mail address handling enquiries about the refunds were shut down on Nov. 13.

An Avianova representative contacted by Vedomosti insisted that the refunds would be completed.

A message on the Avianova web site tells users to direct enquires by post or telephone to the head office at 13 2nd Zvenigorodskaya Ulitsa after Nov. 10. Repeated calls to the number listed and an e-mailed inquiry went unanswered Thursday.

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