Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 23rd September 2019
The holiday company Thomas Cook has been entered into compulsory liquidation after failing to secure the financial backing it needed to stay in business in recent days.
Thousands of the tour operator’s employees in the UK and overseas now face an uncertain future, while an estimated 150,000 holidaymakers will need to be repatriated.
Bosses at the company had been attempting to secure deals to recapitalise and restructure Thomas Cook’s operations over the course of the weekend but those efforts eventually failed and the business has now ceased trading with immediate effect.
The Official Receiver has been appointed as liquidator at the company, which was founded 178 years ago and which has roughly 9,000 employees in the UK and more than 21,000 in total worldwide.
A number of subsidiary companies are also being entered into compulsory liquidation with advisors of those businesses working with the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in order to ensure the safe return all Thomas Cook customers currently out of the country.
Statements given by Thomas Cook’s chief executive Peter Fankhauser in the early hours of September 23rd expressed “profound regret” at the situation that sees one of the oldest package holiday companies in the world cease trading entirely.
“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, customer and suppliers,” he 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.
“I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners.”
The UK government and the CAA are now undertaking what they’ve described as the “largest repatriation in peacetime history” as they work to bring home the many thousands of Thomas Cook customers currently on holidays overseas.
Dozens of charter planes are to be hired by the government over the next few weeks in order to return holidaymakers who’ve now seen their tour operator head out of business.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement that contingency planning is under way to help Thomas Cook customers worldwide, with planes being hired from as far afield as Malaysia and support teams being deployed at call centres and at airports.
However, Mr Shapps has also said that “the task is enormous” so there are “bound to be problems and delays”.
“Please try to be understanding with the staff who are trying to assist in what is likely to be a very difficult time from them as well,” he advised.
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