Macau ferry operator's debts could exceed HK$10m
Neil Gough, Keith Wallis and Jennifer Ngo
Bankrupt ferry operator Macao Dragon could owe more than HK$10 million to creditors, including thousands of tickets sold on group-buying websites Beecrazy and Groupon.
The bankruptcy, announced on Wednesday night, affected 1,475 ticketholders for yesterday's aborted sailings to and from Macau.
One prospective passenger said she bought 20 tickets on the Yahoo! portal for Beecrazy but had yet to use any of them before she heard about the bankruptcy. 'It was my second time using group-buying websites online,' she said.
She said the redemption date for the vouchers was supposed to start yesterday - the day of Macao Dragon's closure.
A spokeswoman for Beecrazy indicated that all 64,000 ticket vouchers bought through its site or the Yahoo Beecrazy portal by about 8,000 customers would be fully refunded by the group-buying site. Groupon HK also said that full refunds would be given.
A spokesman for the Travel Industry Council executive director Joseph Tung Yao-chung said travel agencies would help customers claim compensation from the liquidators, but could not promise full refunds.
Derek Lai Kar-yan and Darach Haughey, of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, provisional liquidators for the company, said Macao Dragon had not cashed a cheque from Beecrazy and therefore holders of tickets or coupons should seek refunds directly through the site.
They estimated that the ferry company probably owed more than HK$10 million to trade creditors, and its total debts would likely exceed total assets. Macao Dragon did not own its ferries but leased them from affiliated companies, they said.
The Consumer Council received 77 inquiries and three complaints about Macao Dragon.
Macao Dragon said the Macau Maritime Administration had imposed passenger caps for its ferries, which had left them 'unable to run the business on a viable basis' and 'made it impossible for [the company] to continue operations'.
Wong Soi-man, director of the Macau Maritime Administration in Hong Kong, disagreed, saying that the terms and conditions were listed on the contract with Macao Dragon from the beginning. Passenger caps were in place due to capacity limits of Macau's ferry terminal. He said Macao Dragon would forfeit its HK$2 million guarantee.