Thomas Cook Goes Bankrupt, 600,000 Tourists Must Be Repatriated

The British tour operator Thomas Cook announced on Monday that it was going bankrupt after failing to find the necessary funds for its survival and will be placed in liquidation. The authorities will have to organize a massive repatriation of some 600,000 tourists worldwide, including 150,000 for Great Britain, twice as many as in the bankruptcy of the British airline Monarch two years ago. This is the most important operation for civilians since the Second World War.

"Operation Matterhorn"

At the same time, the UK Aviation Authority (CAA) reported that the Thomas Cook Group, both a tour operator and airline, ceased operations with immediate effect. stays, are now canceled ". "The government and the Aviation Authority are launching the largest repatriation operation for civilians in peacetime history," the UK Department of Transport said in a statement.

The British authorities activated an emergency plan nicknamed "Operation Matterhorn", named after a US bombing campaign during the Second World War. "Customers who are abroad should visit and only get to the airport when they have a confirmed alternative flight," says CAA, which specifies line numbers. special telephone calls to help travelers (0300 303 2800 in Great Britain and Ireland, +44 1753 330 330 from abroad).

"Also close to the expected date"

The CAA adds having secured special aircraft for this colossal operation that should last until October 6, although some tourists will be able to return by commercial flights. It recalls that organized tours benefit from the ATOL guarantee, which derives from a European directive. This legislation applies to other EU members, notably France and Germany who have large contingents of Thomas Cook customers, and they should benefit from local guarantee funds.

"Given the magnitude of the situation, some disruption is inevitable, but the CAA will do its best to bring people home as close to the expected date as possible", whether for people covered by ATOL or not. The CAA notes that customers who have purchased a stay they have not used yet will be entitled to a "full refund" and that those who are stuck abroad will also be able to recover the costs incurred on the spot if their return is delayed.

1.5 billion pounds of losses

Born in 1841, the world's oldest independent tour operator has 22,000 employees, including 9,000 in the United Kingdom. The heavily indebted tour operator has seen its horizon darken in recent years because of fierce competition from low-cost travel websites and the reluctance of tourists worried about Brexit in particular. He had announced an abounding loss of 1.5 billion pounds for the first half, for a turnover of some 10 billion.

His fate was played out in a few days: creditors asked him last week to find 200 million pounds (227 million euros) of additional funding for an already accepted rescue plan of 900 million pounds and conducted by the Chinese Fosun, the first shareholder, to be validated. Marathon discussions were held all weekend, but to no avail.

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