Updated: Dec 13, 2019
Imagine yourself with a Masticha on a paradisiac island in Greece, the perfect holiday to chill and forget about troublesome issues right? This was what 600 million people spread around the globe were experiencing… Only until they were notified that the company which had arranged their whole trip had gone bankrupt, and realized they were stranded in countries in which they didn't even know how to speak the native language. This is what happened to the people spending their holidays with Thomas Cook on Monday the 23rd of September.
Founded in 1841, Thomas Cook was the first travel agency in the world, responsible for introducing family vacation travel packages in Europe, America, Africa, and the Middle East. The British agency administered various hotels, resorts, and airlines, relying on 100 aircraft, and transporting 19 million people per year to 16 destinations worldwide.
Even though it had 178 years of experience, in recent times, the company faced heavy drops in its business as a consequence of intense competition of travel firms, uncertainties presented by passengers regarding Brexit, the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey (one of its top destinations), and the 2018 European heatwave which deterred passengers from travelling abroad. On top of this, the agency had an astronomic debt of 2.1 billion USD (approx. R$ 8.6 billion) and had one weekend (from the 21st to the 22nd of September) to search for a 250 million USD cash injection in order to avoid collapse. Unfortunately for Thomas Cook, negotiations with creditors, shareholders, and the government failed, giving them no choice but to close its doors for one last time.
You are probably wondering what happened to the 600 million stranded people. Don't worry! The UK had everything planned for the return of the 150 million British tourists grounded abroad through the country's largest repatriation operation known as “Operation Matterhorn”, a reference to a US bombers campaign during World War II. The procedure is expected to cost 123 million USD.
A fleet of aircraft provided by the UK Civil Aviation Authorities (CAA) is being used to repatriate citizens from a portion of Thomas Cook’s destinations, while leased aircrafts and alternative commercial flights are in charge of repatriating British citizens from other destinations. “Due to the significant scale of the situation, some disruption is inevitable, but the Civil Aviation Authority will endeavour to get people home as close as possible to their planned dates,” claimed the British Government. The plan expects all British citizens to return to their homes up until the 6th of October.
Hopefully, everyone can return to their homes without any further issues. The CAA launched a website (thomascook.caa.co.uk) in order to orientate customers regarding repatriation and future flights. For those who’s original destination was not Britain, insurance companies are expected to deal with their situation.
Sadly, 9,000 people around the world lost their jobs with the bankruptcy of the company. Below is a video of a flight attendant’s touching announcement made on one of the last flights ever for the airline:
Let’s hope these people can find a new job and return to their normal lives as soon as possible. As said by one of the employees: “178 years of amazing service have come to an end”….. Farwell Thomas Cook