Thomas Cook collapsed with total liabilities of £9 billion, the Official Receiver has revealed.

The liabilities disclosed in a report to creditors includes £585 million owned to customers and £45 million to employees.

The claim of the Civil Aviation Authority has not yet been fully quantified and is not included in the £585 million figure.

The largest amount of £5.7 billion covers debts to other group companies, followed by £1.7 billion owed to banks and other lenders.

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Trade creditors are owed £885 million, including £393 million due from Thomas Cook Tour Operations, £448 million from the group’s airline business and £44 million from what is described as “group corporate functions”.

The notice to creditors shows that only between £176 million and £244 million has been realised through the sale of assets.

These include Thomas Cook’s retail outlets, aircraft landing slots, intellectual property rights, subsidiary and joint venture businesses and the collection of currency and cash from agency branches.

Special managers continue to negotiate the sale of assets including aircraft and engineering stock.

“The position regarding intercompany trading, assets and liabilities is still to be fully determined,” senior Official Receiver and Liquidator David Chapman said.

“Any payment made to creditors is dependent on the value of the assets realised and the costs of the proceedings.”

The report only refers to 26 Thomas Cook Group companies which were wound up on September 23.

A further 27 UK companies in the group were wound up on November 8.

The Official Receiver will report separately about them “in due course”.

He outlined factors that led up to the failure of the travel giant, which served 22 milion customers across the UK, Germany and northern Europe, in September.

The report shows that directors attributed the group’s financial deterioration to a number of factors, including:

  • a reduction in demand across its geographical trading areas due to a change in customer holiday patterns
  • customer uncertainty caused by the decision of the UK to exit the European Union, which was originally proposed for 29 March 2019, which led UK customers to delay booking holidays in Europe
  • the hot weather in the UK during the summer of 2018 which caused potential customers to take holidays at home
  • increased challenges from online competitors, who focused on lower-cost structures, unlike the traditional Thomas Cook retail travel outlets

“Due to a reduction in the group’s income because of the above factors the board took the decision to write down the value of the goodwill shown in the group’s accounts by £1.1 billion in the 2019 half year results,” the official receiver said.

“It was acknowledged by the board of directors of Thomas Cook Group that the group was carrying significant historical debt and that restructuring of the business and its finances was necessary.

“A number of options were pursued in an effort to address its financial difficulties with the final attempts to recapitalise the group failing in September 2019.

“As a result of which, the directors determined that the group was insolvent on both an assets and liabilities and a cashflow basis, and it was necessary to petition for the winding up of the companies within the group.

The Official Receiver will report further to creditors “where relevant”. This may only include creditors of specific companies in liquidation where there will be a distribution to creditors.


Commenting on the Official Receiver’s figures, travel trade union TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes, called the government’s role in the collapse “expensive and irresponsible”.

The union also repeated its call for an independent inquiry into Thomas Cook’s failure.

Cortes said: “Had Thomas Cook continued trading, the vast majority of these liabilities would not exist. Customers wouldn’t need compensating for cancelled holidays and staff would still be employed.

“For around £250 million, the government could have kept this British company in business and allowed space and time to restructure effectively.

“The Conservative government’s choice to kill off Thomas Cook has proven expensive and irresponsible. They don’t care about travel industry jobs or holidaymakers; an inquiry is urgently needed into the government’s role in this failure.”

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