In the night from Sunday to Monday 23.09.2019, the UK based tourism group “Thomas Cook” has filled in for insolvency. Since around three days people were starting to be aware about the bad financial situation of the group. This was confirmed tonight by the airline and around 600’000 travelers world-wide and 150’000 travelers in the UK are affected and currently on a Thomas Cook booking in Holidays. We reveal you what you shall do if you are affected.

Thomas Cook Airbus A321 departing one of many holidays destination during sunset / Picture by Thomas Cook

Summary of this article:

  • General Information
  • What to do: I am already abroad
  • What to do: I am yet to leave the UK
  • Last Few Words

The estimated reading time for this article is 4-7min. Read it through if you are a stranded Thomas Cook Traveler!

It is with a lot of regret that the Thomas Cook group has officially filled for insolvency. If you visit the official website of the group on Monday morning, the only thing you can see is a small message saying: Thomas Cook UK Plc and associated UK entities have entered Compulsory Liquidation and are now under the control of the Official Receiver. The UK business has ceased trading with immediate effect and all future flights and holidays are cancelled. A dedicated support service is being provided by The Civil Aviation Authority to assist customers currently overseas and those in the UK with future bookings. Please visit: thomascook.caa.co.uk for further information.

The British global travel group started operations in 2007 in result of a fusion between “Thomas Cook AG” and “MyTravelGroup”. They offered everything for the perfect holidays. From your flight (schedulded or chartered) up to cruise lines, the company was a major player in the travel industry during the last few years and having it disappearing today will create a major hole in the UK travel industry. The travel season may be almost over, but according to our information there are still around 150’000 passengers that are affected by this suddent insolvency. It is important for you to categorize your type of traveler as of now: “Already abroad” or “Yet to leave the UK”. Once you have found your matching status, please follow those steps issued by the civil aviation authority of the United Kingdom:

If I am already abroad:

The CAA will organize new flights for you to come back to the UK. Those so called “repatriation flights” are organized by a government when such a big airline collapses. Every Tourist Airline in the UK is paying money during their operations for such cases. If the airline becomes insolvent, the CAA uses this money to rent (“charter”) planes of other airlines to bring people back home. In the Thomas Cook case, this repatriation action has been called “Operation Matterhorn”. As of now and according to our information, the following aircraft are ready to be used:

  • Based in London Stansted Airport: 1 Evelop Airlines Airbus A330-300 on Standby
  • Based in Shannon (Irland) Airport: 3 Eastern Airlines Boeing 767 on Standby
  • Based in London Gatwick Airport: Exp. 1 Atlas Airlines Boeing 747 and one National Airlines Boeing 757
  • Based in Manchester: Exp. 1 Malaysia Airlines Airbus A380
  • Based in Paris Charles de Gaulles: 1 HiFly Airbus A380

So as you can see already some airplane shall be ready to be used today. We contacted the CAA and they confirmed us that airplanes are being prepared to leave. We can expect the first flights to be done today. This could result in having flights between Greece and London on an Airbus A380, quite an experience. Those flights will only be avalible for people that started their journey in the UK. If you are lucky you may also have booked a package with a return flight on an other airline. This flight may not be affected and you could start your journey home as planed. Please note that therefore some other features of your package could be affected (Transfer, Accommodations…) Attention: Repatriation flights will only operate until October 6th (2 weeks as of today). If you are affected you shall submit your contact information to the CAA now on this website: https://thomascook.caa.co.uk/customers/if-you-are-currently-abroad/

The CAA will get in touch with you to provide you travel arrangements back to the UK. If you are protected, you may even get a refund for new flight bookings, but you can only book new flights by yourself when instructed by the CAA! Otherwise you may not qualify for a refund. You can also find information about scheduled CAA repatriation flights here: https://thomascook.caa.co.uk/customers/if-you-are-currently-abroad/guidance-by-destination/ . Please see that this page is being actualized in real time and it could take some time to have the latest information. Once you have a confirmed new booking back to the UK, please arrive at the airport 3 hours in advance! This is very important in such cases and the CAA will be thankful for your cooperation on this extraordinary situation.

If I am yet to leave the UK:

If you haven’t left the UK yet, we sorry to inform you at this point that your flights and holidays package has been cancelled and will not operate. Please do not go to your UK airport as your flight will not be departing. If your booking is ATOL protected you will qualify for a refund. The website to claim ATOL refunds will be opened by the CAA on September 30th 2019 (1 week from today) as the main goal now is to organize flights for stranded passengers. You can check if you are ATOL protected here: https://thomascook.caa.co.uk/customers/check-if-you-are-atol-protected/

If you bookings are not ATOL protected, you would still want to fill in a refund based on the ATOL scheme. This could be useful to get refunded by your credit card company or by your travel insurance. If you have booked your holidays throughout a travel agent, please contact your travel agent directly.

Contact the CAA:

If you wish to contact the CAA, you can phone them on the following numbers:

  • Phoning from the UK (reduced rate): 0300 303 2800
  • Phoning from overseas:  +44 1753 330 330

The phone costs may be reduced but will depend on the network provider. As many passengers are affected, the waiting time could be long and the CAA asks for understanding. The situation is difficult for everyone.

Last words

The situation with the Thomas Cook group is very unfortunate and affecting a lot of people. The only reliable source of flight information, re-bookings and refund is the dedicated Thomas Cook CAA website: https://thomascook.caa.co.uk/

We can only strongly advise any passenger to check this website before taking any actions. We wish everyone affected all the best and our thoughts are also today with every single employee of the company.

Categories: Analyses

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