The bankruptcy of the British tour operator Thomas Cook , the oldest travel company in the world, and the first to bring tourists to the Costa Blanca, has left hundreds of holidaymakers stranded in their hotels, but according to the employer’s association Hosbe and a source at the Alicante-Elche airport, the company’s business has been greatly reduced in the last 5 years and the negative effect on the Costa Blanca will not be as bad as first thought
The Operator, with 178 years of history in the travel industry, had more recently focussed its operation on the Canary and Balearic Islands, where the bulk of its customers are staying.
Thomas Cook has left 150,000 tourists stranded in different destinations but the British Government has a fleet of over 40 aircraft with which they will be repatriated, and as such they are very well organised.
No bankruptcy is good but the local economy won’t be affected very much as Thomas Cook traded mainly in Tunisia, Turkey, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands.
According to its website the company operated in 16 countries with 105 aircraft and worked with 200 hotels and hotel complexes. He had hoped to seal a rescue package with the Chinese fund Fosun this week, estimated at 900 million pounds (1,023 million euros). However, the agreement was delayed by the requirement of banks, including the RBS and Lloyds , to have additional reserves for winter, which the firm was not been able to achieve.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) confirmed on Monday that Thomas Cook has now entered into liquidation after having failed in its emergency negotiations with its main shareholder and creditors as they all attempted to find a rescue package.
The company, which employs 22,000 people, 9,000 in the United Kingdom, “has ceased operations with immediate effect,” according to the British regulator in a statement, and currently has 150,000 tourists from that country on holiday abroad. The company has not been able to secure the 200 million pounds (about 227 million euros) it needed as extra funds to guarantee its survival after a full day of crucial meetings held in London on Sunday.
“All reservations of the Thomas Cook Group, which include flights and holidays, have been cancelled,” the CAA said in a statement. The Government has arranged for a repatriation program to begin today, Monday, which will be completed over the next two weeks during which it will return tourists to the United Kingdom.
“Due to the unprecedented number of British customers who are currently on holiday and who have been affected by the situation, the CAA has secured a fleet of planes from around the world to take passengers back to the UK,” said the CAA. However, some of the passengers who are in “smaller destinations” may have to take alternative commercial flights to those arranged by the CAA program.
It is also warned that because of the “significant magnitude of the exercise” it will be “inevitable” that some “alterations” occur to previously booked itineraries and British customers abroad are asked not to travel to the airports until their flights back to the United Kingdom have been confirmed.
Turisme Comunitat Valenciana is making contact with all those organisations that may be affected, and is trying to ensure that no tourist who may be in this part of Spain is left without attention.
The regional secretary of Tourism, Francesc Colomer, said that “we are trying to measure the effect of the damage to our tourism market and to the sector, especially in Benidorm and the Costa Blanca, where the largest number of British tourists are concentrated”. In this regard, he confirmed that, after discussions with representatives, “the damage will be very minimal, since this bankruptcy will not affect our destinations very much.”
Meanwhile the British Embassy in Madrid issues a press release earlier in the day in which it said that “The Civil Aviation Authority has secured a fleet of aircraft from around the world to fly passengers back to the UK. It is also contacting hotels accommodating Thomas Cook customers as part of a holiday package to let them know that the cost of the accommodation for these customers will be covered by the ATOL scheme.”
Anyone affected by this news should check the CAA’s dedicated website, thomascook.caa.co.uk, for advice and information.