British travel group Thomas Cook has declared bankruptcy on Monday after failing to reach a last-ditch rescue deal, triggering the UK’s biggest repatriation since World War II to bring back stranded passengers.
The 178-year-old operator had been desperately seeking £200 million ($250 million, 227 million euros) from private investors to save it from collapse.
“Despite considerable efforts, those discussions have not resulted in an agreement between the company’s stakeholders and proposed new money providers,” Thomas Cook said in a statement.
“The company’s board has therefore concluded that it had no choice but to take steps to enter into compulsory liquidation with immediate effect.”
Chief Executive Officer Peter Fankhauser said it was a matter of profound regret that the company had gone out of business after it failed to secure a rescue package from its lenders.
“I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers, and partners who have supported us for many years,” Fankhauser said in a statement released in the early hours of Monday morning.
“It is a matter of profound regret to me and the rest of the board that we were not successful.”
BREAKING: "We have not been able to secure a deal to save our business" – Chief executive of Thomas Cook Group, Peter Fankhauser apologises to the company's 'heartbroken' staff and customers.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) September 23, 2019
According to the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Thomas Cook had now ceased trading and the regulator and government would work together to bring the more than 150,000 British customers home over the next two weeks.
“Thomas Cook has ceased trading so all Thomas Cook flights are now cancelled,” the CAA said.
The government and aviation regulator said that due to the scale of the situation some disruption was inevitable.
This latest development marks the end of one of Britain’s oldest companies that started in 1841, running local rail excursions before it survived two world wars to pioneer package holidays first in Europe and then further afield.
As being reported, the firm now runs hotels, resorts, and airlines for 19 million people a year in 16 countries. It currently has 600,000 people abroad, forcing governments and insurance companies to coordinate a huge rescue operation.
The British government says that it had hired planes to fly home an estimated 150,000 holidaymakers to the UK, in an operation starting on Monday.
“Following the collapse of Thomas Cook and the cancellation of all its flights, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that the government and UK Civil Aviation Authority has hired dozens of charter planes to fly customers home free of charge,” a separate statement said, describing it as the largest repatriation in peacetime history.
“All customers currently abroad with Thomas Cook who are booked to return to the UK over the next two weeks will be brought home as close as possible to their booked return date.”
#ThomasCook goes bust leaving 150,000 British people stranded abroad, while their Fat Cat bosses secured £20 Million for themselves plus huge pensions!
Also City Hedge funds shorted stock, helping to force share price down & cashing in on peoples misery
Its all just bloody wrong! pic.twitter.com/s1IfLD3bs9
— Bank on Dave (@FishwickDavid) September 23, 2019
My thoughts are with all the Thomas Cook employees, not knowing if they will have a job tomorrow, it must be horrible – I’ve had some fantastic flights with TCX over the years, praying for a good outcome 💛💛💛 #thomascook @TCAirlinesUK pic.twitter.com/aQI3uSyTQN
— James | SpeedBirdUK (@speedbird_uk) 22 September 2019