UK's 178-year-old travel giant Thomas Cook collapses, 22,000 left jobless
Triggers UK's biggest repatriation since World War II to bring home 6 lakh stranded passengers
London: British travel firm Thomas Cook collapsed into bankruptcy on Monday, leaving some 600,000 holidaymakers stranded and sparking the UK's biggest repatriation since World War II. The 178-year-old debt-plagued group, which had struggled against fierce online competition for some time and blamed Brexit uncertainty for a recent drop in bookings, failed to secure 200 million pounds ($250 million, 227 million euros) from private investors and collapsed in the early hours.
Monday's bankruptcy, which followed a lengthy period of chronic financial turmoil after a disastrous 2007 merger deal, left some 600,000 tourists stranded worldwide, according to Thomas Cook, while its 22,000 employees — 9,000 of whom are in Britain — are now out of a job.
The UK government on Monday launched Operation Matterhorn, its biggest peacetime repatriation in British history, to bring some 150,000 UK holidaymakers back home from destinations including Bulgaria, Cuba, Turkey and the US.
The UK government said on Monday it had hired planes to fly home British tourists, in a mass repatriation plan codenamed Operation Matterhorn which began immediately. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said, "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."
Deadly 2007 merger
The long-troubled group has also been blighted by enormous costs arising from its disastrous merger with MyTravel in 2007, a deal which left it plagued with huge levels of debt.
A day of regret and sadness
Thomas Cook said in a statement that "despite considerable efforts", it was unable to reach an agreement between the company's stakeholders and proposed new money providers. "The company's board has therefore concluded that it had no choice but to take steps to enter into compulsory liquidation with immediate effect," the statement added. "It is a matter of profound regret to me and the rest of the board that we were not successful," said Thomas Cook chief executive Peter Fankhauser. "This marks a deeply sad day for the company," he added.
Goa to take severe hit, witness 50% fall in UK tourists
Tourist footfalls from the UK to Goa are expected to take a severe hit after Thomas Cook declared bankruptcy on Monday, an umbrella body of tour and travel operators said here. "Around 30,000 Britons arrived in Goa during the last tourist season through chartered flights, majority of which were flown by Thomas Cook. The firm was flying seven days a week with 300 seats per flight," said Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) president Savio Messiah. He said UK tourists were known for spending long holidays in Goa, with the average being 14 nights. "The collapse will result in over 50 per reduction in their arrivals as other airlines won't be able to accommodated them now," he added. Chartered flights from the UK start arriving in Goa from November, and almost always the first one was operated by Thomas Cook, Messiah claimed.
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