The United Kingdom has completed Monday the unprecedented operation of repatriation of 140’000 tourists to the country, two weeks after the spectacular bankruptcy of tour operator Thomas Cook, but the headache of reimbursement of 800’000 people whose holidays are fallen into the water is just beginning.
The British Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced in a statement that this operation named “Matterhorn”, the largest since the Second World War, ended with a flight arrived shortly after 9:50 in Manchester (North) in from Orlando (USA) with 392 passengers on board. A total of 150 aircraft have helped bring back some 140,000 people since the launch of the repatriation two weeks ago, hours after Thomas Cook’s sudden bankruptcy.
“I want to thank everyone who took part in this huge operation, including the passengers we brought home” and “terrific ex-Thomas Cook employees who worked with us to make this operation a success”, welcomed Richard Moriarty, Director General of CAA.
At the same time, the authorities are carrying out an operation with no equivalent reimbursement of 360,000 holiday bookings for around 800,000 people whose stay was canceled due to the bankruptcy of the tour operator.
The CAA, which launched Monday morning the procedure of application for refund on line, explained to make the maximum to make their funds as soon as possible to the holiday makers thanks to the guarantee ATOL (Air Travel Trust Fund, resulting from a European directive) which protects those who had not yet left or whose stay had begun.
The request was such that some had difficulty sending their complaint on the dedicated website.
“Impossible to apply, I tried all morning,” lamented on Twitter Becca Fulcher Milton Keynes (center). “Can you give advice to people who can not?” Said Cheryl McAulay, speaking to CAA. The consumer association Which? also alerted against online scams seeking to profit from the situation.
At the time of Thomas Cook’s fall, a total of 600,000 tourists were on vacation with the tour operator. The United Kingdom has repatriated its holidaymakers and the fate of approximately 450,000 others is now being played out between several countries and subsidiaries that had not been immediately bankrupt.
In Germany, where three subsidiaries have filed for bankruptcy, all 140,000 travelers have returned, according to the television n-tv. However, the reimbursements requested by the injured travelers far exceed the ceiling, insurer Zurich Insurance Deutschland warned.
The setbacks of the oldest tour operator in the world have also cost their employment to the 9000 employees of the group in the United Kingdom, out of 22’000 people employed in the world.
The liquidator in charge of the bankruptcy confirmed to AFP Monday that a large number of them had not been paid for September. They can however apply to receive their due from the authorities.
About 2,200 people are still paid normally because they have been kept temporarily to handle repatriation and liquidation.
At a demonstration last week in front of the British Parliament, former employees did not hide their distress and said they felt abandoned. Some feared that they would not be able to find a job and others, brutally deprived of income, used food banks to feed themselves for the first time in their lives.
In recent years, Thomas Cook has suffered from customer reluctance due to Brexit uncertainties and changes in consumption patterns of vacationers, who are abandoning traditional agencies for online bookings. It’s cash had melted, precipitating its fall.