Thomas Cook collapse: What does this mean for customers?

More than 150,000 holidaymakers have been left stranded abroad and 9,000 employees axed after Thomas Cook went bust yesterday.

Thomas Cook collapse: What does this mean for customers?

More than 150,000 holidaymakers have been left stranded abroad and 9,000 employees axed after Thomas Cook went bust yesterday. But what was the reason behind their collapse? Brexit, summer heatwaves, rising hotel costs and hikes in fuel prices have all brought the company into a £1.7 billion debt over the past few decades, and any hopes to save it have been thrown into the air.

Thomas Cook failed to secure an extra £200 million funding to keep it afloat following last-minute rescue talks with lenders last night.

Now, thousands of British tourists are scrambling to book flights back home after the 175-year-old travel firm cancelled all flights and bookings starting from Monday.

The government-backed Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is now carrying out a large-scale repatriation plan, codenamed Operation Matterhorn, deploying planes chartered from other airlines including British Airways and easyJet, returning customers back home over the next two weeks.

Egypt’s privately-owned Nile Air and Jet2 have also offered to fly Thomas Cook customers back home.

The government held an emergency Cobra meeting yesterday to discuss how to repatriate the 150,000 British tourists.

Several thousand passengers are due to arrive back in the UK today, and the first nine deployed aircrafts are now en route back to Britain, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.

The government also plans to create a new task force to assist the 9,000 Thomas Cook employees who lost their jobs, he added.

However, not all hope is lost for customers. Thomas Cook is an Atol registered company, meaning those who purchased a Thomas Cook holiday package will be reimbursed the cost of their flights.

“Thomas Cook was an ATOL registered company which means customers currently on a Thomas Cook package holiday are protected and as the government has outlined, they will ensure all Thomas Cook customers board flights back to the UK,” Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO of Advantage Travel Partnership. Advantage Travel Partnership said.

However, those who booked their holidays through “intermediaries” including booking websites or agents may need to contact them directly to discuss reimbursement.

“Customers who have a package holiday booked through an independent travel agent should contact them to discuss alternative holiday arrangements. For those who paid for their holiday on a credit card they can claim their money back via their credit card provider if the value paid was greater than £100,” Ms Lo Bue-Said added.

Consumers who booked directly with Thomas Cook should visit to or call CAA directly on the UK Freephone number 0300 303 2800 or +44 1753 330330 for international calls.

The CAA said it may take a few days to secure new arrangements.

However, the government has assured that even flight-only customers, who account of half of Thomas Cook bookings, will be flown home even if they are not Atol protected.

The Department of Transport said: “Everyone on a Thomas Cook holiday with a return flight to the UK within the two weeks will be brought home.”

However, customers who are due to fly back more than two weeks from now will have to find and pay for their own flights back.

Some hotels have demanded extra payment from holidaymakers or told to leave the premises.

However, the CAA has also told Atol-protected customers not to make extra payment to their hotel unless the authorities have instructed them otherwise.

Customers are still confused why the airline allowed them to book flights despite its inevitable collapse. Meanwhile, some customers only realised of the company went bust on their way to the airport.

Latifa Yedroudj
Latifa Yedroudj

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