Global travel brand Thomas Cook collapses

Mark Johnson's picture
by Mark Johnson

London-listed global tour operator Thomas Cook has finally collapsed leaving thousands of holidaymakers stranded and putting more than 20,000 jobs at risk.

Frantic last-minute talks to try to rescue the business came to nothing, with CEO, Peter Frankhauser saying it was a “matter of profound regret” that the board was unable to secure the funding required to keep the company afloat.

Earlier this year the company appointed Leo Burnett Germany as its lead creative agency.

Biggest ever peacetime repatriation

The collapse has forced the UK government to intervene and mount what is thought to be the biggest peacetime repatriation of around 150,000 British holidaymakers, who have been left stranded by the tour operator’s collapse.

The company, which can trace its origins back to 1841, reportedly employs around 9,000 staff in the UK and more than 20,000 around the world.

Thomas Cook said that despite considerable efforts, its discussions failed to reach an agreement between the company’s stakeholders and proposed new money providers.

The tour operator posted a final message to its 145,000 followers on Twitter announcing its closure. "We are sorry to announce that Thomas Cook has ceased trading with immediate effect. This account will not be monitored", the post read. 

Notice on Twitter: Thomas Cook made brief announcement on its Twitter account

Compulsory liquidation

“The Company’s board has therefore concluded that it had no choice but to take steps to enter into compulsory liquidation with immediate effect”, it said in a statement issued through the London Stock Exchange, where its shares were listed.

An application was made to the High Court for a compulsory liquidation of the company before opening of business today and an order has been granted to appoint the Official Receiver as the liquidator of the company, Thomas Cook said. 

“We anticipate that the Official Receiver will make an application to the High Court for members of AlixPartners UK LLP to be appointed as Special Managers in respect of the Company, to act on behalf of the Official Receiver, and we further anticipate that an order will be granted to that effect. 

“As part of this process, a number of other Thomas Cook Group companies have also entered into compulsory liquidation, with members of either AlixPartners UK LLP or KPMG LLP (depending on the company) being appointed as Special Managers in respect of the relevant Group companies.

Thomas Cook said it  expects that AlixPartners UK will now work very closely with the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK, to effect the repatriation of all UK customers impacted by this announcement. 

“We have worked exhaustively in the past few days to resolve the outstanding issues on an agreement to secure Thomas Cook’s future for its employees, customers and suppliers” CEO Peter Frankhauser said. 

“Although a deal had been largely agreed, an additional facility requested in the last few days of negotiations presented a challenge that ultimately proved insurmountable.

“It is a matter of profound regret to me and the rest of the board that we were not successful. I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners who have supported us for many years. 

“Despite huge uncertainty over recent weeks, our teams continued to put customers first, showing why Thomas Cook is one of the best-loved brands in travel.

“Generations of customers entrusted their family holiday to Thomas Cook because our people kept our customers at the heart of the business and maintained our founder’s spirit of innovation.

“This marks a deeply sad day for the company which pioneered package holidays and made travel possible for millions of people around the world.”

CAA offers repatriation

The UK Civil Aviation Authority issued a statement today saying it would be providing transport for holidaymakers currently overseas, but only until 6 October.

“If you are currently abroad and your flight was with Thomas Cook we are providing new flights to return you to the UK. 

“These repatriation flights will only be operating for the next two weeks (until 6 October 2019). 

“After this date you will have to make your own travel arrangements. From a small number of locations, passengers will have to book their own return flights. 

The company also said it has requested that its shares be suspended from listing on the premium segment of the Official List of the Financial Conduct Authority and from trading on the main market of the London Stock Exchange with immediate effect.

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