After weeks of intense aerial assaults on targets in Yugoslavia, we
have suffered a casualty of the NATO bombing campaign. The casualty
was not a member of the Air Force, the Navy, the Army or the
Marines but a member of ASTA.
Sea Air Holidays in Stamford, Conn., a tour operator
specializing in Europe river cruises, shut down operations April 20
after 20 years in business. In a letter to ASTA and the travel
agency community, the company said it had to close its doors due to
"problems caused by the military action in Iraq over the winter
months and the most recent allied bombing of the Danube in and
And as with any casualty of war, the loss of Sea Air has
affected many others. The letter said all scheduled group and
individual departures were canceled, and no funds were available
The upshot is that several agencies that had booked groups and
fam trips with Sea Air were left in the lurch, and when they called
the company, they got nothing more than a tape-recorded
Tour operators' closing shop without notice is nothing new in
the travel industry, but by all accounts, Sea Air Holidays was a
reputable company, an operator that by virtue of its specialty was
in the wrong place at the wrong time.
News coverage of the conflict in the Balkans has reminded us all
that despite all the high technology in today's weapons of war, not
every bomb or missile hits its target, and the victims of such
strikes are often innocent indeed.
The longer the conflict in the Balkans continues, the more
likely it is the number of innocent victims will grow.
Let's hope a solution can be arrived at quickly. For the victims
in Kosovo, and those around the world.