AER Travel Holding and Comtravo Acquire Majority of Bühler Travel Agencies

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AER Travel Holding and Comtravo Acquire the Majority of Bühler Travel Agencies

Juliane Neumann

The Reise Center GmbH, a subsidiary of the travel agency chain AER Travel Holding, and the Berlin-based business travel solution Comtravo acquire several offices of the insolvent business travel agency Bühler on December 30, 2020. AER Holding is acquiring the tourism branch with 14 offices, and Comtravo is acquiring the business travel side with 6 offices. With sales of 123 million euros in 2019, Bühler was the largest travel agency in southwestern Germany.

Bühler had to file for insolvency at the end of November. Dr. Dirk Pehl, a lawyer at Schultze & Braun, the insolvency administrator for the Bühler travel agency, is pleased with the fast solution for the majority of the office locations: “In these challenging times, it is remarkable that there are investors that decide quickly and courageously. That’s why I am pleased that we managed to offer customers and especially employees resilient prospects for the future in two established companies in the travel industry. We are also continuing our efforts to find a good solution for the rest of the employees.”

“In times of crisis, it is not easy to work out solutions for offices that are in difficulties,” says Rainer Klee, founder and CEO of the AERTiCKET Group. “Financial assistance II and III help alleviate the situation, but the financial assistance package II apparently came too late for the previous owners.”

About half of the employees will be kept on

About half of the ~220 Bühler employees will be kept on by AER and Comtravo. Both companies were keen to take on all apprentices. Rainer Klee said: “It is particularly important to me that the apprentices don’t end up on the street.” 35 of the 42 apprentices will be directly employed by the AER Travel Holding and Comtravo, while the others are placed in allied agencies and at AERTiCKET – the parent company of AER Travel.

For the employees who could not be taken on, it will be looked into at the beginning of 2021 if they can also be taken on by existing travel agencies or by TRAVELISTA, a newly founded company of the Lufthansa City Center Reisebüropartner GmbH (LCR) for the mobile travel sales.

The tourism branch that was acquired by AER Travel Holding will become a part of the Lufthansa City Center Reisebüro Übersee; the CEO for the new 14 locations will be Ilona Paschke. “We are taking over numerous smaller offices for the first time. Together, however, these can certainly generate a worthwhile turnover in the tourism sector in the future”, says Ilona Paschke optimistically and adds: “We will combine several offices into one unit with a new concept and lead them to success.”

The push for digital solutions is accelerating

“The current coronavirus crisis poses enormous challenges for conventional travel agencies. Only agencies that have been able to build up financial reserves in recent years can cope with the big drop in sales,” says Comtravo CEO Michael Riegel.

In June 2020, AER Travel Holding and Comtravo announced the joint acquisition of the travel agency Honold in Neu-Ulm. Rainer Klee and Michael Riegel believe that the current crisis is driving an already overdue consolidation in the travel market. In addition to the consequences that this development brings for smaller companies, however, it also represents a great opportunity for the market. “The combination of local agencies with digital solutions brings several advantages, as the high service level of experienced travel experts can be combined with efficient booking processes. As a result, the customer receives first-class customer service and digital processes at the same time,” says Michael Riegel. In the course of the acquisition of the business travel agencies, the LCR and Comtravo will continue the cooperation talks already started in the summer to define future fields of strategic cooperation.

About AER Travel Holding

The travel agency chain AER Travel Holding was founded in 2017, and 50% of it is owned by the consolidator AERTiCKET Conso GmbH, the other 50% is held by management.

The following travel agencies are under the AER Travel Holding umbrella:

  • Air Travel Reiseservice (also known as “Titanic Reisen”) with 8 offices,
  • the long-established Reisebüro Koch Übersee in Hamburg as well as Reisebüro Honold in Neu-Ulm (that is now part of Koch Übersee since the acquisition in June 2020),
  • the newly founded Reise Center GmbH with 16 locations all over Germany.

About Comtravo

Comtravo was founded in 2015 in Berlin as a business travel solution for SMEs. Comtravo’s solution simplifies and optimizes booking, management, and invoicing processes for business travel and offers customers an alternative to traditional travel solutions. The Berlin-based company is supported by renowned partners and investors, e.g., Deutsche Bank and Microsoft.

About Schultze & Braun

Schultze & Braun is a leading service provider for insolvency administration and consulting in restructuring and insolvency law. With over 600 employees at more than 40 locations in Germany and other European countries, Schultze & Braun supports companies locally, nationally, and internationally in all legal, tax, and business management issues.

Table of contents

About half of the employees will be kept on

The push for digital solutions is accelerating

About AER Travel Holding

About Comtravo

About Schultze & Braun

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