“A deeply sad day”: Thomas Cook Group ceases trading

UK. Thomas Cook Group plc has ceased trading, with all Thomas Cook Airlines flights grounded and its high street shops closed with immediate effect. The company, a pioneer in the world of leisure travel for almost 180 years, entered compulsory liquidation today.

Thomas Cook Airlines handled around 20 million passengers a year across its charter and scheduled services and had a fleet of over 100 aircraft. The airline business generated strong inflight sales for many years, with informed sources saying the UK business was worth an estimated £72 million a year (under Alpha LSG management).

The moves leaves hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers stranded overseas, many from the UK, although the government has said it is acting now to repatriate them. German subsidiary Condor tweeted today that it is continuing to fly, and has applied for a loan for the German government to keep business running.

“This marks a deeply sad day for the company which pioneered package holidays and made travel possible for millions of people around the world.”

The Thomas Cook Airlines fleet was grounded today after the company failed to agree a rescue package

In a statement, the company said: “Further to the announcement made on 20 September 2019, Thomas Cook Group plc continued to engage with a range of key stakeholders over the weekend in order to secure final terms on the recapitalisation and reorganisation of the company.

“Despite considerable efforts, those discussions have not resulted in agreement between the company’s stakeholders and proposed new money providers. The board has therefore concluded that it had no choice but to take steps to enter into compulsory liquidation with immediate effect.”

Chief Executive Peter Fankhauser said: “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. 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.

“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.”

The company’s London stock exchange listing will be suspended with immediate effect. The largest shareholder in Thomas Cook Group is China-based Fosun International, which also owns the Club Med holiday chain among other tourism businesses.

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