MyTravel Units Find Buyers

MyTravel Group begins selling U.S. operations.

British travel services company MyTravel Group began selling U.S. operations last week, including California-based tour operator SunTrips, CruisesOnly and hotel room consolidator World Choice Travel.

The beleaguered company, formerly Airtours, had said in September that it was seeking to sell some of its U.S. businesses as it restructures to cope with high costs and debt.

Many details of last week’s sales were not released, pending regulatory, shareholder and other approvals. But the sales can be expected to further reshape the U.S. travel industry as National Leisure Group, Travelocity and others add acquisitions.

eResource Capital Group Inc. said its wholly-owned travel services division, Flightserv Inc., has agreed to buy SunTrips and VE Holdings Inc., which does business as Vacation Express in Atlanta.

The sale of the companies two of the largest leisure tour operators in the United States and currently Flightserv air charter customers was expected to close by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, National Leisure Group Inc. said it is acquiring the U.S. cruise division of MyTravel for $110 million in cash.

The businesses operate under several brands including CruisesOnly, CruiseOne, Cruises Inc., Ship ‘n’ Shore, Landry & Kling, and Vacation Outlet. “We are thrilled about this combination and the benefits that it will allow us to deliver to our loyal customers and cruise line partners,” said Brad Gerstner, president and co-chief executive of National Leisure Group.

The sale is expected to close next month.

Travelocity and parent company Sabre Holdings also stepped in to buy a MyTravel operation, saying they will add Florida-based World Choice Travel.

The deal, for $50 million in cash, is expected to close in the fourth quarter. Travelocity said it will boost its hotel distribution capability about 20 percent.