‘Biggest peacetime repatriation in UK history’ as Thomas Cook collapses

23rd September 2019 

Repatriation effort underway to bring home some 150,000 holiday makers.

Thomas Cook Group has ceased trading, resulting in all flights and holidays being cancelled. The announcement was made via the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) at around 2am on Sunday.

Chief executive of Thomas Cook, Peter Fankhauser, remarked that the collapse of the company was a “matter of profound regret”. He apologised to Thomas Cook’s “millions of customers, and thousands of employees”.

The Government ordered the CAA to organise a repatriation programme over the course of the next two weeks, starting Monday (today) until Sunday 6th October. Planes have reportedly been brought in from as far as Malaysia.

In response to the news, UK PM Boris Johnson observed that it was time to “reflect on whether the directors of these companies are properly incentivised to sort such matters out”. Thomas Cook’s collapse comes off the back of a previous collapse, of the budget airlines Monarch.

He commented that the Government could not have done more to help. The travel agency requested a €169m (£150m) bail-pout however this was not acceded to.

“It is a very difficult situation, and obviously our thoughts are very much with the customers of Thomas Cook, the holidaymakers, who may now face difficulties getting home,” he said. “We will do our level best to get them home,” Mr Johnson said.

Over the weekend, Thomas Cook executives attempted a last-ditch effort to save the group through meetings with stakeholders, including the firm’s largest shareholder, Chinese conglomerate Fosun, which ended on Sunday at 5pm. Talks had begun at 9am that morning.

The Guardian reports that the tour operator made a number of proposals, such as asking lenders to reduce a €226m (£200m) demand for extra funding as well as the release of €56m (£50m) of cash held by credit card companies as collateral against bookings.

Such talks appeared to have failed with holidaymakers now being repatriated home. Thomas Cook was struggling with a €1.9bn (£1.7bn) debt burden. The weekend’s meetings came about following the company’s successful negotiation of a €1bn (£900m) bail out but was then asked to find another €226m (£200bn), which pushed the company over the edge.

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Roughly 150,000 holiday makers would be impacted should the company collapse.

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The company reportedly generated €904m in revenue during the third quarter of 2018.

‘Biggest peacetime repatriation in UK history’ as Thomas Cook collapses