Tour Operator Thomas Cook Ceases Operations, Leaving 600,000 People Stranded
The Thomas Cook tour company and airline shut down on Monday, leaving thousands of tourists stranded on holidays around the globe.
The company, which was founded in 1841, shared the news in a brief tweet.
“We are sorry to announce that Thomas Cook has ceased trading with immediate effect.” It added that the Twitter account "will not be monitored” and provided guests a website for further information.
On the website, the now-defunct company explained that “the Government and the Civil Aviation Authority are now working together to do everything we can to support passengers due to fly back to the UK with Thomas Cook.”
“This repatriation is hugely complex and we are working around the clock to support passengers,” they added.
For customers who are already abroad, here's what the company had to say: “...we are providing new flights to return you to the UK. These repatriation flights will only be operating for the next two weeks (until 6 October 2019). After this date, you will have to make your own travel arrangements. From a small number of locations, passengers will have to book their own return flights.”
According to NPR, any customer flying back within these two weeks will not have to pay for their return flight. Customers can also file claims for a refund to cover out-of-pocket expenses. They may also file a claim to cover airfare if they must book their own return flight.
For those who have yet to depart on their pre-packaged holidays, the company wrote, “We are sorry to inform you that all future holidays and flights booked with Thomas Cook are canceled.”
According to The New York Times, the British government is now attempting to bring home some 150,000 British citizens. It’s being described by the UK’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab as the "biggest peacetime repatriation in U.K. history."
The New York Times reported that the first repatriation flight left Kennedy Airport in New York with more than 300 passengers on board and was expected to land at about 5 p.m. in London. In total, about 600,000 people around the globe will be affected by the shutdown.
The shutdown of Thomas Cook could also have a massive ripple effect on many of the destinations where the company operated, such as the Greek island of Crete. Michalis Vlatakis, the head of Crete’s union of tour operators, told reporters the shutdown is like a “7-magnitude earthquake.” Now, he’s just “waiting for the tsunami.”