Thomas Cook, the world’s oldest travel company, has today ceased trading, causing thousands of flights and holidays to be cancelled.
The firm went into liquidation this morning after it failed to pay £200 million owed to creditors by 11:59 pm last night.
In a devastating blow for the travel industry, 9,000 British employees and around 21,000 staff around the world’s jobs are now at risk.
An estimated 150,000 British holidaymakers are said to be stranded, with no certainty on how they will get home or continue their holiday, after flights have been cancelled and the company declared bankruptcy.
Those who were due to fly out on Thomas Cook planes today have been told to stay at home, while dozens of aircrafts have been chartered to bring back stranded passengers.
The company was forced to declare bankruptcy when the UK stock market opened this morning at 8am, after failing to secure funding for the £200 million it owed.
“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,” said Peter Fankhauser, CEO of Thomas Cook in a statement.
“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.
We are sorry to announce that Thomas Cook has ceased trading with immediate effect.
This account will not be monitored.
— Thomas Cook (@ThomasCookUK) September 23, 2019
“It is a matter of profound regret to me and the rest of the board that we were not successful. I would like to apologise 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.”
Along with air and resort holidays, the company also sold cruise holidays, and the industry is reeling from the news. Many cruise lines linked to the travel company have released statements to their customers.
Princess Cruises revealed that it will now handle all Thomas Cook bookings directly and is “in the process of contacting all affected guests.”
P&O Cruises has said it will contact all P&O guests booked through Thomas Cook and assured customers that all holidays that are ABTA/ATOL protected will go ahead as planned. It will contact guests booked onto Thomas Cook aircrafts for their cruise with alternatives when confirmed.
Other cruise lines have shared their support and sympathies for the travel company, with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises contacting all guests affected by the news, in sale date order.