Thomas Cook, the 178-year-old tour operator dramatically collapsed on Sunday night leaving hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded around the world. In a statement Thomas Cook CEO Peter Fankhauser said the company had no choice but to enter emergency bankruptcy proceedings:
We have worked exhaustively in the past few days to resolve the outstanding issues on an agreement to secure Thomas Cook’s future for its employees, customers and suppliers. Although a deal had been largely agreed, an additional facility requested in the last few days of negotiations presented a challenge that ultimately proved insurmountable.
It is a matter of profound regret to me and the rest of the board that we were not successful. I would like to apologize 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.
Generations of customers entrusted their family holiday to Thomas Cook because our people kept our customers at the heart of the business and maintained our founder’s spirit of innovation.
This marks a deeply sad day for the company which pioneered package holidays and made travel possible for millions of people around the world.
Currently, it is estimated that this leaves as many as 600,000 passengers stranded away from their homes worldwide. Thomas Cook has set up a page on its website for what to do if you are currently stranded and what to do if you had an upcoming flight booked with the company:
- If you’re currently stranded, Thomas Cook says they have arranged new flights to return customers home. However, the repatriation flights will only be operating until October 6, 2019. If you attempt to return home after that date, you’re on your own. Those who want to get on a repatriation flight should check out the company’s page here.
- If you have not yet begun your Thomas Cook vacation—bad news, you’re never going to. The company says, “We are sorry to inform you that all future holidays and flights booked with Thomas Cook are canceled as of September 23, 2019.”
- For people whose future flights have been canceled, Thomas Cook says it will make refunds if your flight or vacation plan was ATOL protected. If it was not, Thomas Cook suggests you may be able to claim from your travel insurer or your credit card issuer or bank, but you need to check directly with them.
While being stranded on your vacation–or having it canceled altogether–is bad enough, it’s nothing compared to what Thomas Cook employees are experiencing today. As the BBC reports, the collapse of Thomas Cook puts 22,000 jobs at risk worldwide.