All attempts to save Thomas Cook have failed. The company has ceased operations and is now officially insolvent. And this does not only apply to the tour operator but also, and maybe most important, to Thomas Cook Airlines. After the company stopped trading with immediate effect, causing flights to be canceled, the UK government has started an enormous repatriation effort – codename Matterhorn – to return travelers home.
The CAA (UK Civil Aviation Authority) has launched the program that will last for approximately two weeks. The goal is to bring all Thomas Cook passengers back to the UK. According to media the government has chartered dozens of planes and says that “all customers currently abroad with Thomas Cook who are booked to return to the UK over the next two weeks will be brought home as close as possible to their booked return date.”
The authority has also instructed all passengers not to travel to the airport. Also, no-one should make other arrangements until their flight back to the UK has been confirmed. A special website where travelers will get all up-to-date information has been established: https://thomascook.caa.co.uk/
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What had happened?
Thomas Cook has been on the brink to insolvency for several months now. Last-minute talks between the company and its stakeholders ended on Sunday without any positive results.
The £1.7 billion debt that Thomas Cook was burdened with has proven to be too much to take. A proposal that would have reduced this sum by £200 million and funded the company with £50 million in credit card payments that financial institutes had been holding back was refused.
After going out of business, Thomas Cook leaves around 21,000 people unemployed and close to 600,000 holidaymakers stranded.
Is Condor Still Flying?
As of now, no subsidiaries operating outside the UK have closed down business. Also, the Frankfurt-based carrier Condor is positive that they will be able to keep planes in the air. At least Flightradar shows several of Condors aircraft airborne this morning.
I’m Affected by the Insolvency – What can I do?
According to the UK government, no one will be left stranded. The repatriation plan in place should ensure that everybody will be on a flight home a close as possible to the actual scheduled date.
However, the authorities direct all travelers to not make their way to the airport. And to wait until their return flight has been confirmed. Your return might be delayed, but you should carry on with your vacation as planned and check the website for updates.
Some travelers might have to stay at a hotel for longer than planned and may be asked to settle the bill for those extra days. Or the management could ask you to pay for the original agreement since they might haven’t seen any money from Thomas Cook at all.
If that’s the case, the CAA advises customers to contact them and have them deal with the problem. They are already in touch with several hotels and other companies to make sure that no holidaymakers run into more problems than already exist.
Luckily, there is insurance againts the insolvency of Thomas Cook: the Atol protection. In some cases, Atol might be able to find a partner who can to provide the booked holidays instead of Thomas Cook. Other customers will be refunded.
Here’s the website that will give you all the necessary information.
Unfortunately, the Atol protection won’t cover only-flights bookings. That means that you won’t get your money back except for booking made through an Atol licensed travel agency.
But chances are good if you used a credit card as a method of payment. In that case, you can initiate a so-called chargeback. You can claim that you never received the service you’ve paid for and your credit card company in many cases will refund your money.