Thomas Cook: Industry mourns collapse of iconic travel brand

The travel industry today reacted to the collapse of Thomas Cook with an emotional mixture of dismay and a determination to provide support wherever possible.

Many took to social media to express their shock and regret at the passing of one if the most well-known names in the sector.

Others issued details of how they have been preparing to help out.

Thomas Cook employee Alison Eyre, now looking for an IT business analyst job, summed up the mood by tweeting: “We’re just devastated for our customers.

She said: “I just wanted to take the time to thank everyone for their support, especially that of our customers.

“We are devastated you are losing your holidays that you’ve worked so hard for, I so wish the outcome was different.”

Another staff member called Natalie tweeted: “I am in tears! Absolutely heartbreaking! I love my job. I love my company and I love my colleagues. Thanks you Thomas Cook for the best 9 years of my life.”

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Carol Kirkham, of Kirkham Travel, said it was “awful news for the industry”.

Kay Bustin tweeted: “Such as sad day for the travel industry. Thinking of all my travel buddies at Thomas Cook at this horrible time. So shocked so see a much loved iconic brand go.”

Regent Seven Seas Cruises Midlands and South regional sales executive Georgia Lewis said: “Woken up to the said news about Thomas Cook. I started my career in travel at TC and loved every minute of it. Mt heart breaks for all the loyal and dedicated staff.”

Sunvil managing director Chris Wright said Cook’s collapse was a “day we all hoped we wouldn’t see”.

Shearings Holidays managing director Jane Atkins tweeted: “Such a sad morning. Flying into Greece last night on what I now know will be one of the last TC charter flights, crew were fab, the steward at the top of the steps had a tear in his eye as all pax wished him good luck! I now echo those sentiments to all TC staff around the globe.”

‘A terrible day’

Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association president Ken McLeod said: “This is a terrible day, not just for the UK travel industry, but on a global scale as well for the most renowned name in travel.

“Our first thoughts are with everyone who is affected by this, whether they are holidaymakers, staff or affected third parties such travel agents, hotels and other suppliers.

“We know that our own member agencies up and down the country are working very hard to assist customers who are currently on holiday with Thomas Cook and who have booked to travel in the future. It is obviously a worrying time for all concerned, but one of the key roles of a travel agent is to act on behalf of customers in times of crisis.

“The only positive that we can take from this is that it once again the situation demonstrates the importance of consumer protection, in this case the Atol scheme which ensures that most British travellers shouldn’t be left out of pocket or stranded overseas.

“The repatriation by the CAA, code-named Operation Matterhorn, of tens of thousands of Thomas Cook customers will be a massive effort – beyond even the scale of the operation that was triggered following the collapse of Monarch Airlines in 2017.

“While the majority of package holidays are protected by Atol, many customers who have booked flight only will not be afforded that same kind of protection.

“As an organisation, SPAA has long championed the introduction of a total transport passenger levy to offset the cost of repatriation should an airline or tour operators go bust.

“The Department for Transport’s airline insolvency review published earlier this year also recommended this approach.

“The current situation with Thomas Cook reinforces the need for such a scheme and a timeline for its introduction to be moved up.”

Industry’s ‘remarkable resilience’

The Travel Network Group CEO Gary Lewis said: “Thomas Cook is the oldest brand in travel but it is their people and our friends we are really thinking of today.

“The failure has demonstrated again the remarkable resilience of our industry to deal with adversity, it underlines the importance of our financial protection models with the Atol licence scheme.

“I have every confidence that the CAA will have been fully prepared for this situation and will now be dealing with the massive task of repatriating Thomas Cook customers back to the UK as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

“It is now the role of our membership to serve those customers that are due to travel and I know that they will do an equally amazing job of managing that as sensitively and professionally as they can.”

He added: “We have had our team in all over the weekend, helping members prepare for today and we will continue to be available to support them.  We have also set up a special support line for members to call.”

‘Devastating news’

Advantage Travel Partnership CEO Julia Lo Bue-Said said: “An incredibly sad moment for our industry, Thomas Cook employees and customers. Devastating news.”

The Travel Gossip group on Facebook was flooded with comments, with some describing the failure as “catastrophic” for the industry and others saying they were devastated by the news.

Travelopia head of trade partnerships Simon Garrido said: “Needless to say such a sad day to what has been an incredible company. More importantly, so many good people who will no longer have jobs this morning – thoughts with all of you.”

Wendy Wu Tours deputy managing director John Warr said: “This has to be one of the saddest days in the history of this country. My utmost respect to the staff of Thomas Cook who remain professional right to the end.”

Andrew Monk, CEO of VSA Capital, suggested that Tui and Jet2 parent Dart Group will fill the void.

“Thomas Cook collapse is sad but not the first time in this industry – the board has to take the major blame for being asleep for years but enjoying massive salaries,” he tweeted. “Watch Tui and Dart as they will pick up pieces.”

Richard Dobinson, director of Arrive Relax Travel in Southend, summed up much of the reaction by saying: “Let’s stand u and applaud every single one of the Thomas Cook staff from every single shop, reservations, accounts and airline, tour operations department.

“Arrive Relax Travel and our staff are indebted forever. Professional people you all are with dignity and fight to the very end. TC, we all had a place in our hearts for you. We all in the industry applaud you all. The industry simply will not be the same without you. We are all gutted.”

He added: “TC started the travel industry. We as a business will do our best to help as many staff as possible.”

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