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REVEALED: Thomas Cook owed at least $17 billion when it collapsed

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Britain’s public insolvency service says Thomas Cook owed more than $17 billion when it collapsed.

Thomas Cook’s total liabilities are estimated to total around £9 billion (over $17 billion), according to a new report from the UK Insolvency Service.

More than half of the debt owed by Thomas Cook – £5.7 billion (nearly $11 billion) – at the time of its collapse was to fellow group companies.

A staggering £585 million (more than $1.16 billion) relates to debts owed to the group’s customers, while £45 million (nearly $86 million) is owed to employees, including redundancy payments.

See more: Hays Travel saves nearly 2,000 Thomas Cook jobs

The group, however, also accrued a sizeable debt to banks and trade creditors, owing billions at the time of its collapse.

Debts owed to banks and other lenders, which included commitments under lease agreements, totalled more than £1.7 billion (over $2.4 billion), while trade creditors are owed £885 million (nearly $1.7 billion).

The report also noted that the claim of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has not yet been fully quantified. After more than 600,000 Thomas Cook customers were left in the lurch after the group’s collapse, the CAA coordinated the return of passengers to the UK.

A second report is expected to be released at a later date, with further insolvency proceedings currently occurring across Europe.

As one of the prominent European brands in the leisure travel industry, Thomas Cook offered holiday and flight options, which included traditional packaged holidays, independent travel products, seat-only airline tickets and a selection of travel-related financial services.

Thomas Cook’s companies served approximately 22 million customers annually before their collapse on 23 September. The group’s key markets were the United Kingdom, Germany and Northern Europe.

In October, Thomas Cook’s executives fronted a Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) hearing chaired by economist and sitting MP Rachel Reeves.

Reeves said the company’s directors were guilty of a “series of misjudgements” that saw to its failure, and the committee urged former CEO Peter Fankhauser to return some of the bonuses he received during his time at the company.

Fankhauser maintained the company could have had a “bright future” under his leadership if the British government had not refused to support a £1.1 billion refinancing, according to The Guardian.

To read more of Travel Weekly’s coverage of the collapse of Thomas Cook, click here.

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