The world’s oldest Travel agency, Thomas Cook has collapsed leaving 600,000 holidaymakers stranded worldwide.

In what are a sad state of affairs for the travel industry and everyone affected, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the UK announced the news today at 2am London time that after 178 years of trading, Thomas Cook has gone into administration.

The shocking news has now activated the UK’s biggest ever peacetime repatriation ‘Operation Matterhorn’ to get 150,000 British holidaymakers home.

Customers in the UK who have yet to fly have been advised not to go to the airport as all bookings, including flights and accommodation have been cancelled.

Thomas Cook, which at 178 years old made it the world’s oldest travel provider, served around 19 million customers a year in 16 countries with 566 stores.

Up until last night, the AU$2 billion debt-ridden company employing 22,000 staff worldwide was holding desperate last-minute talks to fight off bankruptcy unless it could secure an extra AU$370m in funding.


The CAA said in the statement that: “We know that a company with such long-standing history ceasing trading will be very distressing for its customers and employees and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this news.” Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesperson 

The sad news follows the closure of Tempo Holidays and Bentours AUS/NZ on Thursday, which saw the loss of 90 jobs and agents and customers left in the dark as to the status of their bookings.


Thomas Cook says its recent financial struggles have been attributed to competitive online operators, the increased prices of jet fuel and hotels, concerns over Brexit, political turmoil in destinations such as Turkey, and summer heatwaves that discouraged customers from travelling outside of the UK.


The only good news for British Thomas Cook customers is that they are protected by the British ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) scheme, meaning their holiday accommodation, as well as return flights, are guaranteed if they are currently abroad.

The British ATOL scheme ensures that while holidaymakers may end up enduring stressful changes of plans and potential delays in getting home, their holidays will be covered financially.


The CAA states on its website: “If you are on holiday when the ATOL holder fails, we will try to ensure you can finish your trip and return.” It advises people to keep checking its website and social media pages for the latest information.

It’s estimated that the total cost of British holidaymakers guarantees alone to be paid by the ATOL scheme underwritten by the CAA will be around AU$1.1 billion.


Future bookings are also protected, with the CAA advising that if an ATOL protected firm collapses, and a British customer has not yet begun their trip, it would advise them on how to make a claim for a refund. Or, in some cases, the CAA “will appoint a fulfilment partner to provide the holiday”.

Around 50% of Thomas Cook customers have booked flights only and may not come under ATOL protection, but the 2017 Monarch Airlines collapse (The Uk’s previously biggest repatriation of 110,000 passengers) precedent suggests the government would assume responsibility for bringing them home.

The fate of the 22,000 staff globally affected by the closure is at this stage still unknown and our thoughts go out to everyone involved and affected by the news.

Source: KarryOn