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UK | Thomas Cook Declares Bankruptcy, Thousands Stranded

Featured Thomas Cook has ceased trading, leaving an estimated 150,000 Britons abroad awaiting repatriation Thomas Cook has ceased trading, leaving an estimated 150,000 Britons abroad awaiting repatriation
LONDON,September 23, 2019 - Some 150,000 British citizens have been left stranded overseas, while another 350,000 foreign nationals are also abroad on Thomas Cook vacations, according to the Financial Times, following the collapse of the world's largest travel company, Thomas Cook Group Plc under a pile of debt.

The company filed for bankruptcy early Monday after talks with creditors failed, forcing the British government to hire charter planes to bring thousands of the 178-year-old U.K. travel provider’s customers back home.

According to a Financial Times report, the move saw all bookings, flights and holidays with Thomas Cook canceled, sparking panic online among travelers. In what it called the “largest repatriation in peacetime history,” the government said it would work to return all those booked to come back to the U.K. over the next two weeks free of cost.

The collapse spells the demise of what is one of the U.K.’s best-known brands, and caps months of talks with Thomas Cook’s investors, led by China’s Fosun Tourism Group.

Travelers on Thomas Cook vacation packages and flights were advised by the British government not to cut short their trips, with the civil aviation regulator planning to repatriate customers as close as possible to their booked return date. The government will also cover the cost of accommodation for Thomas Cook customers.

The collapse deals another blow to the European travel sector, just months after the bankruptcy of Icelandic budget airline, Wow Air. The carrier shut down its operations in March due to lack of financing, leaving 2,700 fliers stranded and hurting the country’s economy.

Founded in the 1840s by a Victorian entrepreneur of the same name, Thomas Cook started out by running train trips through the English Midlands. The business expanded as Britain’s growing middle class discovered they had more time -- and money -- to discover the delights of Europe.

Briefly absorbed into the state rail company soon after World War II, the company got its biggest boost in the 1970s and 1980s as Britons sought the sun on a cheap budget. The ad slogan “Don’t just book it, Thomas Cook it” entered the national psyche.

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  • Countries: United_Kingdom

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