EUROPE: Berlin-based multimodal travel booking platform FromAtoB closed at the end of December.

In a statement to customers, FromAtoB said 2020 had been a tough year, and ‘no-one could really foresee the impact that this pandemic would have on personal lives, or the economy. After months of working hard and hoping for better times, we have to face up to the fact that the travel industry has not recovered.’

The company was founded by three people who met at RWTH Aachen University in 2008 and set out to build ‘the best multi-modal search engine for travel across Germany and Europe’. Its search platform grew to cover 50 rail, low cost flight, car pool and coach operators and was used for 1·5 million searches per month. Its revenue came from commission on ticket sales, advertising and a service fee.

The business was acquired by motorway service station operator Tank & Rast after the failure of a financing round in 2018.

Following the company’s closure, the ALLRAIL association of independent train operators and ticket retailers said FromAtoB had made a significant private investment in creating an EU-wide multimodal platform, but ‘state-owned rail incumbents dictate punitive contractual conditions wherever they are market dominant’.

‘Private investors are willing to invest in independent multimodal platforms’, said ALLRAIL President Dr Erich Forster. ‘However, FromAtoB’s demise shows that there is market failure; antitrust action is urgently needed. EU and national stakeholders need to act fast before the independent ticketing market is completely killed off.’