Thomas Cook flights were being suspended from midnight. | Archive

2

Thomas Cook, with a history dating back to 1841, has collapsed. Sunday's negotiations to secure urgent additional funding of 200 million pounds proved to be fruitless.

The Civil Aviation Authority in the UK had already started to make provisions to repatriate holidaymakers. Transport secretary Grant Schapps says that the CAA has arranged for dozens of charter planes to take people back to the UK free of charge. Holidaymakers returning over the next fortnight will do so at times as close as possible to the dates they had booked. The Department of Transport adds that a small number of passengers may need to book their own flights and then claim the cost.

Hotels are being advised that accommodation costs for Thomas Cook customers will be covered through the ATOL scheme and Air Travel Trust Fund.

Some 150,000 British holidaymakers will need to be repatriated. Planes started to be impounded at midnight on Sunday. Around 22,000 jobs worldwide are at risk.

Related news

The problems at Thomas Cook have existed for several years, but they started to become critical in 2018. A variety of factors, such as hot summer weather in northern Europe, were blamed for mounting debts. It had been thought that, despite the debts, Thomas Cook's operations were sustainable. However, it had become clear in recent weeks that there was a serious liquidity issue. The 900 million pound rescue deal by the Chinese conglomerate Fosun was placed in doubt by lenders' demands to raise the additional 200 million pounds contingency funding.

The malaise at the tour operator had been highlighted by fluctuations in management strategy. Only a couple of years ago, it was said that the future was dependent upon the airlines. It was then decided to try and sell off the whole airline operation in order to alleviate the company's debts.

Travel agencies were being closed in a further attempt to improve the financial situation, but ultimately the failure of Thomas Cook was an inability to contend with changing dynamics in the holiday market, such as competition from online travel agencies.

While Thomas Cook struggled, Jet2 - which has a very much more straightforward structure and holiday offer - overtook it in markets such as Majorca.

(Reaction to the collapse in Majorca will follow.)