On Sunday (Sept. 22) night, British tour operator Thomas Cook announced it had entered immediate liquidation.
Hundreds of thousands of travellers have been stranded as a result of the collapse. In the U.K., in what is being called the ‘biggest peacetime repatriation effort in the country’s history,’ the government is scrambling to bring home roughly 150,000 people.
We are sorry to announce that Thomas Cook has ceased trading with immediate effect.
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— Thomas Cook (@ThomasCookUK) September 23, 2019
Roughly 50,000 Thomas Cook travellers were reported stranded in Greece; up to 30,000 in Spain’s Canary Islands; 21,000 in Turkey; and 15,000 in Cyprus. At airports across the globe, travellers are lined up trying to find a way to get home.
More than 20,000 employees in 16 countries have lost their jobs overnight.
The 178-year-old company folded due to a variety of reasons, most notably crushing debt and competition from low-cost carriers and online travel sites.
The looming threat of Brexit has also taken a toll on the world’s oldest travel agency. The company blamed a slowdown in bookings on the uncertainty over Britain’s impending departure from the European Union and the resulting drop in the pound also made it more expensive for Britons to travel abroad.
“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,” said CEO Peter Fankhauser in a company statement released yesterday.
“This marks a deeply sad day for the company which pioneered package holidays and made travel possible for millions of people around the world.”