Trade gets behind Thomas Cook

Agents have vowed to support Thomas Cook after the travel giant posted unexpectedly large losses that caused its share price to plummet and heightened fears of a collapse.

Many said it would be “devastating” for the industry if Thomas Cook went under, and have responded by promoting Cook holidays and reassuring customers.

John Hays, founder and managing director of Hays Travel and its 180 shops, said: “I very much want Thomas Cook to survive. We supported them when they had a near-death experience in 2012 and we will continue to support them.

“If they cease to exist, it would have a major impact on our entire industry.”

Julia Lo Bue-Said, managing director of The Advantage Travel Partnership, said it is “business as usual”.

“We’ve worked with Thomas Cook a long time,” she said. “They are a strong brand and will hopefully work things out. I’ve not seen any change in behaviour from members’ customers – in fact, we saw no change in last week’s trading [following Cook’s results].

“Some members are promoting Thomas Cook locally and we will do every-thing we can do to support them.”

Thomas Cook’s future was called into question after its headline half-year losses soared to £1.45 billion to the end of March as a consequence of a £1.1 billion write-down of the MyTravel business it merged with in 2007.

Its shares briefly fell to 10p but were trading at 12p on Tuesday and up to almost 13p this morning.

Other agents rallied to support Thomas Cook. Garstang Travel restocked its racks with Cook brochures in a show of support. Director Nicole Eaves said: “If [Cook] disappeared, the devastation would be unbelievable, not just in terms of job losses, but the whole industry could go into turmoil.

“We always offer customers a choice of operators, but Thomas Cook
will be at the forefront of our minds. We’ve got to stick together.”

Shelly Taylor, owner of Taylor Travel in Prestatyn, Wales, said the agency did not sell many Thomas Cook holidays after it scrapped price parity in December, but a number of customers who booked last year for this summer had called in concern.

“They were having a bit of a panic, asking if their holiday is going ahead. I told them they are going ahead and there are no cancellations,” she said.

“It would be a crying shame if [Thomas Cook] went. It would make everyone’s life harder.”

Thomas Cook put its airline up for sale in February. If a sale goes through, a £300 million credit facility would become available from October.

A Thomas Cook spokesman said: “We have ample resources to operate and our liquidity position continues to strengthen into the summer period.”

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