U.K. Travel Firm Thomas Cook Liquidates, Strands 600,000 Tourists
Sept. 23, 2019 (EIRNS)—The troubled British travel company Thomas Cook Group went into liquidation, taking 21,000 jobs in Britain and on the continent, and leaving 150,000 British travelers and another 450,000 Europeans stranded. The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced at 2 a.m. GMT today: “Thomas Cook Group, including the U.K. tour operator and airline, has ceased trading with immediate effect. All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been canceled.”
“Rescue flights” are being organized by the CAA and the British government, which has arranged for British Airways and EasyJet airlines to airlift vacationers stranded at airports across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, America and the Caribbean. The “rescue” is only for British citizens. The only other time the British government has had to move that number of citizens was in the evacuation of 330,000 British troops from Dunkirk.
Cook’s German subsidiary Condor Airlines has not ceased operations and is still flying, but it is not known for how long, since it, too, has been seeking emergency financing by the German government. Condor is still seeking a purchaser, but it is unlikely to find one. Its fleet is over-age and its only real value is the slots it has at various airports.
Thomas Cook Group had a $1.7 billion debt burden. Over the years the Thomas Cook brand has changed ownership. As of its collapse, the major stockholders were Invesco Ltd, the American independent investment manager, and Standard Life Aberdeen plc, an investment company with headquarters in Edinburgh, as well as the Chinese company Fosun. The last, which held 7% of the stock, had been in negotiations to buy the whole business, but talks broke down when Thomas Cook negotiators asked for a loan of another £200 million on top of the proposed £900 million, at which point Fosun pulled out.