The Week - Junior

Holiday trouble for travellers


The world’s oldest travel company, Thomas Cook, has shut down after 178 years of business, leaving employees and customers devastated. Many people have lost their jobs or had their holidays cancelled. The company’s closure also left more than 150,000 British holidaymak­ers stranded abroad. This has forced the UK Government to embark upon the biggest ever repatriati­on in peacetime. Repatriati­on is the act of returning people to their home country.

Why did Thomas Cook close down?

Thomas Cook was in a lot of debt, which means that it owed money to other people. The company was forced to shut down because it failed to find a way to repay the money. The company had asked the UK Government to lend it £250 million to help keep it in business, but the request was refused. Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said that the money would only have kept it going “for a very short period of time”. Others have argued that the Government could have done more to help.

When did it happen?

The final flight run by Thomas Cook landed at Manchester Airport at 8.52am on 23 September. It had come from Orlando, Florida, in the US. One of the passengers, Wendy Willis, told

BBC News that the staff were crying but were “brilliant and very profession­al, despite not having a job when they landed”. When passengers on the flight learned that the cabin crew wouldn’t be paid, they quickly organised a collection to raise some money for them.

How many people have been affected?

The company’s closure means that its 22,000 employees around the world could now lose their jobs. Around 9,000 of those employees are based in the UK. About 600,000 Thomas Cook customers were on their holidays when the company closed down, and 150,000 of them are British citizens. Another 800,000 holidays that had already been booked by people in the UK with Thomas Cook have now been cancelled. These included couples who had planned weddings abroad, and families who were going on holiday to Disneyland.

How will people on holiday get home?

In a mission called Operation Matterhorn, the UK Government has hired 45 planes from other airlines to bring British citizens back home. The number of planes under Government control has temporaril­y made it the country’s fifth-largest airline. The Department for Transport has promised people that they’ll be brought home as close as possible to their planned return date. Dame Deirdre Hutton, who is the chair of the Civil Aviation Authority (an organisati­on that supervises airlines), said, “Nobody is stranded, everybody will get their holiday and they will be brought back at the time they would have come back anyway.”

On 23 September almost 15,000 people were flown home. The operation will run until 6 October.

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 ??  ?? A man walks past an advert for Thomas Cook.
A man walks past an advert for Thomas Cook.
 ??  ?? Crowds filled airports as flights were cancelled.
Crowds filled airports as flights were cancelled.
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