FCO advises Thomas Cook holidaymakers who might be asked for money by their hotels that all costs are covered

Updated 27 September: The FCO says that if any Thomas Cook customers in Spain are asked for money, they should contact the CAA on +44 1753 330330 because every single Thomas Cook hotel has now been contacted by the Civil Aviation Authority guaranteeing payment for all ATOL protected guests. Hotels will be covered from the date of arrival until the date of departure. Meanwhile, in the first four days of Operation Matterhorn  around 61,000 Thomas Cook passengers have been flown home, over 40% of the total 150,000 people left stranded by the holiday company’s collapse.

Here in Tenerife the commercial and political tourism authorities from Ashotel to Ayuntamientos, the island Cabildo and the Canarian Government itself have been coordinating with hotels and airlines to ensure that Tenerife itself is protected as much as possible from the ongoing effects of Thomas Cook’s collapse. It is fair to say that the tourism powers are highly concerned at the damage that could be caused for these islands at the bankruptcy of one of the biggest travel outfits of modern times.

Updated 25 September: The British Embassy in Madrid has issued the following statement following the collapse of Thomas Cook.

Some tourists who have travelled out from the UK on Thomas Cook package holidays have been asked to pay for their hotels. This should not be happening. The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has sent a letter to every hotel that has an ATOL-protected passenger in it, guaranteeing the payment to the hotel from the date of arrival to the scheduled departure date.

British Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott said “I hope that confirmation that the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority has already sent a guarantee of payment to every hotel with Thomas Cook package holiday customers, assures holiday makers that there should not be any surprise bills.”

He added, “If you are on an ATOL-protected package holiday and are experiencing difficulties from the hotel or they are requesting payment from you, my advice is that you call the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority on +44 1753 330 330 as soon as possible. It is also important not to make a payment to your hotel unless you are instructed to do so by the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s team”.

If you are ATOL protected, you will have received an ATOL certificate as part of your reservation process, either by email or in the post. If travellers are not sure if their travel company is ATOL protected, please check guidance here: //thomascook.caa.co.uk/customers/check-if-you-are-atol-protected/.

In exceptional circumstances, if the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority is unable to guarantee the hotel stay, the CAA may need to relocate travellers to another hotel. If this happens, the UK Civil Aviation Authority will inform other suppliers such as hotel transfers, of the change to accommodation and flight details. Travellers who are not ATOL protected with any company that was part of the Thomas Cook Group, are not entitled to make a claim for expenses under the ATOL scheme, although they may be able to claim from their travel insurer, bank or credit card issuer.

While I’m posting, it’s worth adding that some people are clearly confused by seeing some planes apparently belonging to Thomas Cook flying to or from Tenerife. It is the Thomas Cook Group, including Thomas Cook Airlines, that has gone bust. There are other TC companies outside the UK Group, however, and these are still flying – eg TC Scandinavia, TC Balearics. Also, some planes from the TC Group are being used by the UK Govt to repatriate. This does not undermine the report of the bankruptcy which is wholly correct.

Updated 23 September: The public confirmation of Thomas Cook’s collapse came shortly before 3am when the majority of the company’s planes were on the ground, as I posted last night. The company has confirmed that all the UK businesses in its group have ceased trading, including Thomas Cook Airlines.

As a result, all holidays and flights provided by these companies have been cancelled and are no longer operating. All Thomas Cook’s retail shops have also closed.

The Government and the Civil Aviation Authority are now working together to do everything possible to support passengers due to fly back to the UK with Thomas Cook from today until 6 October 2019. If you are affected, this will be either on CAA-operated flights or by using existing flights with other airlines, depending on your location; those already abroad will find all the necessary information to get home HERE. After 6 October passengers will need to make their own travel arrangements. 

If you are due to depart from a UK airport with Thomas Cook Airlines, please do not travel to your UK airport as your flight will not be operating and you will not be able to travel.

Please note that some of Thomas Cook’s package holiday bookings include flights with airlines unrelated to the Thomas Cook Group.  If your return flight is not with Thomas Cook’s airline, it will still be valid. However other elements of the package, such as accommodation and transfers will be affected.

For those with Thomas Cook flight-only arrangements, around 50% of the company’s bookings, the government has clearly said this morning that they will be flown home even if they are not Atol protected. Atol usually applies to package holidays only but in this case travellers are covered provided that they’re already abroad, with no means of return, and their return is scheduled for before 6 October.

The first Civil Aviation Authority repatriation flight has already left JFK bringing 300 stranded passengers back to Manchester: this repatriation is hugely complex and all authorities are and will continue to be working around the clock to support passengers. 

Original post 22 September: Thomas Cook is going into administration overnight, at a point when most of its fleet of planes would be on the ground. The news sees the start now of Project Matterhorn, the government’s repatriation of an estimated 150,000 British holidaymakers stranded around the world by means of flights provided by airlines like BA and Easyjet. French radio has (pointedly) pointed out that Thomas Cook travellers are protected by ATOL thanks to an EU directive. No doubt there will be official statements in the morning after the bankruptcy is officially declared.

5 Comments

  1. Unfortunately this has been on the cards for a few weeks as the shares have been short sold and the banks, financiers and government have all withdrawn their support.Customers were still flying out yesterday and now are asking who is going to bringing them home.What more can you say.At least there plenty of flight only carriers available in Europe but Ryanair, easyJet and other airline have all increased the prices overnight as well.Feel sorry for those stranded at the moment as being at an airport or abroad with no way home is not great experience in life.

  2. The European Package Travel Directive was introduced in 2015. The ATOL scheme, managed by the CAA was introduced by the British Government in 1973. It replaced earlier bonding schemes prevalent in the UK industry.

  3. Speculation ( share vultures) have no doubt helped collapse. Very sad and worrying – especially 1000s without jobs – let,s hope some parts can be rescued.
    A very minor irritation is that the Lyk currency card distributed by Thomas Cook is not working i.e it goes to a Thomas Cook ceased trading notice.

    I have been passed around all morning ( Master Card, FCA, Wirecard etc etc noone seems to know next step. I am assured cash is safe – we,ll see.

    Meanwhile – we wish those caught up – travellers, employees, are treated quickly and fairly.

  4. Just on the point above from the French radio that ‘Thomas Cook travellers are protected by ATOL’. According to the UK radio station I was listening to this morning, package holidays booked with Thomas Cook are protected. Flights booked with Thomas Cook Airlines are not.

  5. Author

    The government has clearly said that flight-only customers, which are around 50% of the company’s bookings, will be flown home even if they are not Atol protected. Atol usually applies to package holiday customers only but in this case they are covered provided they’re abroad, with no means of return, and their return is scheduled for before 6 October. I’ll actually add this to the post above to avoid anyone being confused.

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