One of the world’s biggest and longest-standing travel companies has gone into liquidation, leaving an estimated 600,000 travellers in the lurch.
Following an announcement on Friday that it was continuing to engage with a range of key stakeholders to try and secure the company’s future via a recapitalisation plan, Thomas Cook Group today revealed that these discussions have failed to result in an agreement.
“The company’s board has therefore concluded that it had no choice but to take steps to enter into compulsory liquidation with immediate effect,” Thomas Cook said in a statement.
Peter Fankhauser, CEO of Thomas Cook, said: “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.
“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.”
In July, Thomas Cook announced it was in advanced discussions with Fosun Tourism Group about a proposed recapitalisation and separation of the company.
Under the proposal, Thomas Cook was targeting an injection of £750 million (more than $1.3 billion) of new money.
The recapitalisation proposal also required a reorganisation of the ownership of the tour operator and airline businesses, which was expected to result in Fosun owning a significant controlling stake in the company’s tour operator division and a significant minority interest in its airline division.
However, an industry analyst warned at the time that the proposed rescue deal could’ve done more harm than good.
Founded in 1841, Thomas Cook operates as a wholesaler, as well as owning airlines, hotels and resorts across 16 countries. It employs 21,000 staff who service 22 million customers.
It’s been reported that roughly 600,000 of Thomas Cook’s customers are holidays right now, with approximately 150,000 of those from the UK.
According to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, it is working with the UK government to support passengers due to fly back with Thomas Cook between 23 September 2019 and 6 October 2019.
Depending on their location, this will be either on CAA-operated flights or by using existing flights with other airlines.
“If you are due to depart from a UK airport with Thomas Cook Airlines, please do not travel to your UK airport, as your flight will not be operating and you will not be able to travel,” a statement on CAA’s website says.
The collapse of Thomas Cook comes not long after Tempo Holidays and Bentours issued a joint statement on Thursday advising the businesses – owned by Cox & Kings in India – had been placed into voluntary administration, prompting other travel companies to offer support to those agents and customers who have been affected.