UK Tour Operator Thomas Cook Could Collapse Within Hours

Thomas, Cook, Collapse

(BBC) – The government is ready to fly holidaymakers back to the UK if tour operator Thomas Cook collapses, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said.

Mr Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show contingency planning was in place to make sure no-one would be stranded.

But he dampened hopes of a government rescue bid for the firm.

Ministers did not “systematically step in” when businesses went under unless there was “a good strategic national interest”, he said.

Mr Raab said he did not want to undermine the rescue talks that Thomas Cook is currently conducting with its biggest shareholder and creditors in the City of London.

The tour operator’s financial difficulties have mounted over the past year, culminating in a refinancing plan in August led by its biggest shareholder, Chinese company Fosun.

But banks now want the company to raise extra funds and it could fall into administration within days unless it finds £200m.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has aircraft on standby in case Thomas Cook does go into administration over night.

The BBC understands that those aircraft are currently being flown to destinations so that British tourists can be flown home on Monday if necessary.

A source said the CAA is “very prepared”.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) union, which represents Thomas Cook staff, is urging the government to step in with a bail out amid fears the company’s collapse could leave about 150,000 British tourists stranded.

Thomas Cook customers have been reminded on social media that they have Atol protection – a fund paid for through industry levies – “in the event that Thomas Cook goes into administration”.

The travel firm also reassured customers on Sunday that flights continue to operate as normal.

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