Thomas Cook: Repatriated Tourists, Accused Leaders

Finance
UK officials help Thomas Cook customers at Cancun airport in Mexico on September 23, 2019.

In the United Kingdom, at the headquarters of the bankrupt tour operator, Thomas Cook, controversy swells over the huge salaries received by the leaders of the group.

The authorities repatriated thousands of tourists affected by the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook on some 600,000 people on holidays around the world, while in the UK the controversy swelled on the huge salaries perceived by the leaders of the group.

The British Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced on Tuesday 24th September 2019 that they brought 14,700 people in the UK on Monday, or 10% of the people who were on vacation with the tour operator, Thomas Cook, at the time of his bankruptcy on Monday.

Some 6 4 flights have allowed these scattered tourists around the world , especially in the sunny regions of the Mediterranean, to return safely. Tuesday, the CAA planned to bring back a little more. It uses aircraft hired from other airlines, for a total cost that should run around 100 million pounds.

“We want people to continue to enjoy their holidays and so we will bring them back to the UK on the day of their planned return or just after,” says CAA Executive Director Richard Moriarty.

Thomas Cook Cook's Club Hotel in Hersonissos, Crete, September 24, 2019.
Thomas Cook Cook’s Club Hotel in Hersonissos, Crete, September 24, 2019. (© AFP / Costas Metaxakis)

“We go home, that’s what counts”

At Palma de Mallorca Airport, one of Thomas Cook’s flagship destinations, hundreds of people, families, seniors and young people were lining up before boarding planes to bring them back to the UK.

“I was expecting worse, frankly. Our flight is going to be a little later than expected today but we’re going home, that’s what counts, “said Alastair Ross, a 27-year-old student.

In Belgium, the consumer protection association Test-Achats was Tuesday “assailed by calls from customers worried” while about 10,000 Belgian customers are currently abroad.

Some of them complained to be asked “sometimes up to 3000 euros” by local providers to continue their stay or even leave the premises, reported Test-Achats.

The CAA recognizes that there is “confusion in some hotels”, while managers have been able to ask vacationers to pay to stay.

She adds that a majority of customers in Britain – and elsewhere in the European Union – will, however, be eligible for reimbursement thanks to guarantees from a Brussels directive.

Uncertain fate

The fate of the 22,000 employees of the tour operator was still fraught with uncertainties: if a large part of them should lose their jobs – in particular the 9000s in the United Kingdom – some subsidiaries or activities could possibly be sold or preserved.

About 600 Thomas Cook employees in Belgium were waiting for an announcement after an extraordinary works council on Tuesday, while in the Netherlands, Thomas Cook and a local subsidiary cancelled all future bookings.

Thomas Cook customers at the Punta Cana airport, Dominican Republic, September 23, 2019.
Thomas Cook customers at the Punta Cana airport, Dominican Republic, September 23, 2019. (© AFP / Erika SANTELICES)

Indignation in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom was stunned by the sharp fall of the pioneer of tour packages, brutally placed in liquidation Monday after failing over the weekend to find the funds necessary for its survival.

The spotlight was on Tuesday on leaders of the group who shared, according to the British press, 20 million pounds in salaries and bonuses since 2014 while the group was floundering.

Tabloids demanded the reimbursement of the premiums collected, which was also demanded by the Labour opposition.

The government has asked for an investigation into the role of leaders in the bankruptcy of a heavily indebted tour operator who pays years of risky management. Thomas Cook also suffered from the reluctance of consumers worried about Brexit and competition from holidays bought on the internet.

A spokesman for the Jupiter fund, which was a shareholder, told AFP that he had “repeatedly called on Thomas Cook’s management over the last 18 months to express our concerns (…) and propose solutions to boost action, including the potential sale of the airline “.

“Our discussions did not produce the desired effect and we chose to significantly reduce our share”, which was only 0.15% at the time of bankruptcy, he adds.

Thomas Cook's headquarters in Palma de Mallorca on September 24, 2019.
Thomas Cook’s headquarters in Palma de Mallorca on September 24, 2019. (© AFP / JAIME REINA)

Thomas Cook: Repatriated Tourists, Accused Leaders 1

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