World’s oldest travel firm Thomas Cook collapses leaving thousands of holidayers stranded

Thomas Cook collapsed after last-minute negotiations aimed at saving the 178-year-old holiday firm failed.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said Thomas Cook had “ceased trading with immediate effect”.

It currently has 600,000 people abroad, triggering governments and insurance companies to coordinate a huge rescue operation. The major chunk here, about 150,000 of them are British.

Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook’s chief executive, said the firm’s collapse was a “matter of profound regret”.

Commenting as the company entered compulsory liquidation, Fankhauser apologised to the firm’s “millions of customers, and thousands of employees”.

The tour operator’s failure puts 22,000 jobs at risk worldwide, including 9,000 in the UK.

About 16,000 holidaymakers who are booked to come back on Monday were left stranded. Authorities hope to get at least 14,000 of them home on chartered flights.

The British government has chartered 45 jets to bring customers home and they will fly 64 routes today. The size of the fleet will make it temporarily the UK’s fifth largest airline. Operators including EasyJet and Virgin have supplied some aircraft, with jets coming from as far afield as Malaysia.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to help stranded holidaymakers, but also questioned whether company directors were properly incentivised to “sort such matters out”.

All customers currently abroad with Thomas Cook who are booked to return to the UK over the next two weeks will be brought home “as close as possible” to their booked return date. Customers will be on special free flights or booked onto another scheduled airline at no extra cost.

Thomas Cook had secured a £900m from its largest shareholder Chinese firm Fosun in August, but a recent demand from its lending banks to raise a further £200m in contingency funding had put the deal in doubt.

Thomas Cook is one of the world’s best known holiday brands, the business was founded in 1841 in Leicestershire by cabinet-maker Thomas Cook. The firm ran hotels, resorts and airlines for 19 million people a year in 16 countries.

The firm blamed a series of issues for its problems including political unrest in holiday destinations such as Turkey, last summer’s prolonged heatwave and customers delaying booking holidays because of Brexit.

But the firm has also faced fierce competition from online travel agents and low-cost airlines.

In addition, many holidaymakers are putting together their own holidays and not using travel agents.

Source : Various