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Firm's Money Woes Leave Tourists Stuck : Travel: A charter airline cancels flights of German visitors, saying the tour operator has not paid its bills. Thousands are left stranded.


Thousands of German tourists are stranded in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Florida by a charter airline's decision to cancel all flights booked by Marlo Reisen, a German-based tour operator, the airline said Wednesday.

"It just reached a point that it became obvious that (Marlo Reisen) were not going to pay us, and we were not going to be able to absorb the cost of the flights," said Mary Cochran, a spokeswoman for Indianapolis-based American Trans Air.

Cochran said Marlo Reisen had chartered weekly flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco and twice-weekly flights to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this summer from the German cities of Frankfurt and Duesseldorf. But about two weeks ago, she said, the tour operator stopped paying its bills.

Cochran said she did not know the tour operator's financial situation, and officials with Marlo Reisen were not available for comment Wednesday.

American Trans Air flew 19 flights that were not paid for before deciding Tuesday night to cancel all further flights booked by the tour operator, Cochran said.

The airline's decision left about 4,500 German tourists stranded in California and Florida, along with about 60 American tourists marooned in Germany.

A call to the German consulate in Los Angeles was answered with a recording, in German, stating that those who are truly destitute would have return flights funded by the German government, with the understanding that the government would be repaid.

Joel Auerbach, vice president of Florida Network Tours, said his company is trying to arrange flights for the stranded tourists on other airlines.

In the meantime, he said, the stranded Germans will have to find hotel accommodations on their own, because hostelries are being warned not to accept the tour operator's hotel vouchers.

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