Thomas Cook folds, 6L tourists stranded

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Front Page -

Lon­don: Thomas Cook, the world’s old­est travel com­pany, col­lapsed on Mon­day, leav­ing 6,00,000 hol­i­day­mak­ers stranded across the globe and spark­ing the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment’s biggest repa­tri­a­tion since World War II as it scram­bled to bring 150,000 UK tourists back home from far-flung des­ti­na­tions.

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, de­clared bank­ruptcy af­ter fail­ing to se­cure £200 mil­lion (Rs 1,770 crore) from

pri­vate in­vestors. Mon­day’s developmen­t, which fol­lowed a lengthy pe­riod of chronic fi­nan­cial tur­moil af­ter a dis­as­trous 2007 merger deal with MyTravel, left Thomas Cook’s 22,000 staff out of job.

Bri­tish tour op­er­a­tor and air­line Thomas Cook col­lapses af­ter last-minute ne­go­ti­a­tions aimed at sav­ing the 178-year-old hol­i­day firm failed

Au­thor­i­ties in the United King­dom launched an of­fi­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the cor­po­rate col­lapse, ac­cord­ing to a Down­ing Street spokes­woman who also cau­tioned that there were “a num­ber of com­pli­cated rea­sons be­hind the fail­ure”.

Thomas Cook said “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 it had no choice but to take steps to en­ter into com­pul­sory liq­ui­da­tion with im­me­di­ate ef­fect,” it added. The long-trou­bled group has also been blighted by enor­mous costs aris­ing from its dis­as­trous 2007 merger with MyTravel, a deal which left it plagued with huge lev­els of debt.

The UK gov­ern­ment said it had hired planes to fly home Bri­tish tourists, in a mass repa­tri­a­tion plan co­de­named ‘Op­er­a­tion Mat­ter­horn’ which be­gan im­me­di­ately. Launch­ing Britain’s “largest repa­tri­a­tion in peace­time his­tory”, trans­port sec­re­tary Grant Shapps said the gov­ern­ment and UK civil avi­a­tion author­ity had hired dozens of char­ter planes to fly home Thomas Cook cus­tomers.

As well as ground­ing its planes, Thomas Cook has been forced to shut travel agen­cies, leav­ing the group’s 22,000 global em­ploy­ees — 9,000 of

OP­ER­A­TION MAT­TER­HORN

Bri­tons booked to come back on Mon­day. Au­thor­i­ties hope to get at least 14,000 of them home on char­tered flights

Jets char­tered by UK gov­ern­ment to bring Bri­tons home

Routes flights will fly on Mon­day

whom are in UK — out of a job.

Chi­nese peer Fo­sun, which was al­ready the biggest share­holder in Thomas Cook, had agreed last month to inject £450 mil­lion into the busi­ness as part of an ini­tial £900 mil­lion res­cue pack­age. In re­turn, Fo­sun was to ac­quire a 75% stake in Thomas Cook’s tour op­er­at­ing divi­sion and 25% of its air­line unit. “Fo­sun is dis­ap­pointed that

REPATRIATI­ONS FLIGHTS TO UK

Europe Car­ribean and Cen­tral Amer­ica

6

US

5

North Africa

4

Turkey

Thomas Cook Group has not been able to find a vi­able so­lu­tion for its pro­posed re­cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion with other af­fil­i­ates, core lend­ing banks, se­nior note­hold­ers and ad­di­tional in­volved par­ties,” it said.

Thomas Cook, which be­gan in 1841, grew into a huge op­er­a­tion but fell into mas­sive debt de­spite re­cent an­nual turnover of £10 bil­lion from trans­port­ing about 20 mil­lion

4

Size of the fleet will make it tem­po­rar­ily UK’s fifth-largest air­line Hol­i­day­mak­ers stuck abroad cus­tomers world­wide. The com­pany’s fail­ure comes just two years af­ter the col­lapse of UK’s Monarch Air­lines.

Thomas Cook’s demise caps a dra­matic fall from grace for a com­pany which was de­moted from Lon­don’s FTSE 100 shares in­dex in 2010 — and from the sec­ond-tier FTSE 250 last year. Its shares are worth­less and now sus­pended.

Source: BBC, Agen­cies

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