The 178-year-old British tour operator Thomas Cook collapsed Sunday night, immediately entering liquidation with hundreds of thousands of travellers being left stranded across the world. The UK government is launching its largest-ever peacetime repatriation to bring passengers home.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority announced that Thomas Cook Group has ceased trading with immediate effect, with all flights and holidays cancelled.
Thomas Cook CEO says they had worked “exhaustively” to prevent the collapse. Peter Fankhauser, the CEO of Thomas Cook, said in a statement that the company’s collapse was “a matter of profound regret.”
“I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners who have supported us for many years. Despite huge uncertainty over recent weeks, our teams continued to put customers first, showing why Thomas Cook is one of the best-loved brands in travel,” he said.
“This marks a deeply sad day for the company which pioneered package holidays and made travel possible for millions of people around the world.” He added that the company had worked throughout the past few days to reach a deal between stakeholders and “proposed new money providers,” but the negotiations finally broke down in the face of “insurmountable” challenges.
There are currently 600,000 travellers on vacation around the world with Thomas Cook. The UK tour operator is an iconic name with a 178-year history — meaning its reach is wide and its travellers are scattered around the globe. It offered more than 60 different travel destinations, from Dubai to Los Angeles to Santorini.
The British government has launched an ambitious repatriation effort to bring home 160,000 travellers whose trips end in the UK — but hundreds of thousands more are still stranded, and their repatriation will have to be managed by their respective countries.