The end of Thomas Cook?

By | Category: Travel news

At 2am UK time today the end finally came. The board of Thomas Cook called in the liquidators. The oldest tour operating company in the world had ceased business.

Immediately, the CAA’s repatriation plan came into being to bring back to the UK holidaymakers whose holiday would be ending on Monday. Over the next two weeks it has chartered forty planes and is expecting to operate a thousand flights or so to bring holidaymakers back home.

All Thomas Cook flights have been grounded throughout the world so anybody who was due to go on holiday from today onwards should not turn up at airports but claim a refund under the ATOL bonding scheme. Those that just bought flights have less opportunity for redress.

About 150,000 British/Irish holidaymakers are believed to be on holiday at the moment with the company along with about 300,000 Germans and about another 150,000 Belgians, French and Scandinavians.

As readers will appreciate the collapse of Thomas Cook is substantial.

All Thomas Cook customers should check their travel insurance policies for cancellation cover and those who paid by credit card and where the sum exceeds £100 should also claim against their credit card issuer. The CAA has set up a special website with information about what affected travellers should do. It is www.thomascook.caa.co.uk.

This will bring some relief to those that had paid for their holiday but not yet taken it but it won’t provide you with a replacement holiday. That you must start looking for again and those affected for October half-term holidays may have to work fast to book alternate holidays.

In countries on the continent, different rules apply so readers should check in their home countries for how they will be affected.

Whilst the ramifications for holidaymakers seem large that for the travel industry is even larger. Thomas Cook wasn’t a British company. It was a worldwide one. With a turnover of £9.6 billion and 22,000 employees, over 100 owned hotels and resorts and about 117 planes in its fleet, the company had a substantial impact on  the destinations to which it send holidaymakers, They will also wake up this morning to judge the impact.

In the UK, Peterborough – where Thomas Cook has the bulk of its employees – will feel the largest impact.

Countries like Cuba, Cyprus, Malta, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Tunisia and many others will feel the impact because the company sent hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers there each year.

For those currently on holiday with the company, some hoteliers may try and ask holidaymakers to pay for their accommodation claiming that Thomas Cook had yet to pay them. Check with the British embassy or consulate where you are staying to see what the position is.

Thomas Cook was the third largest tour operator in the UK after TUI and Jet 2. That is a large hole to fill by existing tour operators and travel agents but this morning they will be scrambling to grab as much of the holiday and flight business as they can. When the liquidators start selling the assets of the company, there will be a quue of companies looking at individual parts of the group because the debt the company owed was its biggest problem not the day-to-day operating.

Will Thomas Cook arise from this mess? Some company will probably buy the name but will it be so tarnished that people will be reluctant to book holidays with it again?

Today, the Thomas Cook story will dominate the media because it its impact on so many countries. Over the next few weeks there will be even more news about the impact. This could be a game-changer for the British tour operation business and for legislation to protect holidaymakers even more in the future.

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