Thomas Cook has confirmed that all the UK companies in its group, including Thomas Cook Airlines, have ceased trading. All holidays and flights provided by these companies have been cancelled and are no longer operating, and all of Thomas Cook’s retail shops have closed.
Thompsons Africa, the inbound agent for the Thomas Cook Group, has committed to honouring all bookings for guests who are currently travelling in the country.
David Standage, Financial Director of tourism and leisure group Cullinan Holdings (which owns Thompsons Africa), says the company has undertaken to do so in line with its responsibility and to protect the reputation of South African tourism.
“We are currently working together with all service providers to ensure that no guest is left stranded in the country,” says Standage.
“Thompsons Africa has been the inbound agent for the Thomas Cook Group for more than 20 years. Thomas Cook was a global leader in travel and tourism, and through its various brands, has been a great supporter of tourism into South Africa. Its demise is a great loss to the country.”
The Managing Director of Akilanga DMC and Events, André Laget, says that its operations will not be affected at all by the closure of Thomas Cook, as all its agreements with Thomas Cook France were on a pre-payment basis, and have been this way for the past two years. “We had two groups in September and we have three others in the coming months, and all are pre-paid. Their services will not be affected; they will travel normally.”
Laget says that the industry has been aware of Thomas Cook’s fragile financial state for a few years, which is why it has serviced Thomas Cook clients on a pre-payment basis. “We often talk about the importance of checking the financial health of the local destination management company (DMC), and sometimes we forget to look at outbound operators, in particular when they are large.”
What happens now?
“The government and the [UK] Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are now working together to do everything we can to support passengers due to fly back to the UK with Thomas Cook between September 23, 2019, and October 6, 2019,” says a statement on the Thomas Cook website.
The statement also advises that travellers due to depart from a UK airport with Thomas Cook Airlines should not travel to the airport as the flights will not be operating. “The repatriation is hugely complex and we are working around the clock to support passengers,” it reads.
Customers who are currently abroad, and whose flights were with Thomas Cook, will have new flights provided for them back to the UK by the company. These flights will only operate for the next two weeks (until October 6), after which travellers will have to make their own arrangements. From a small number of locations, passengers will be required to book their own return flights.
Further advice for travellers currently abroad can be found here.
As mentioned above, customers still in the UK who are booked on a Thomas Cook Airlines flight should not go to the airport, as the flights have been cancelled, and the CAA’s repatriation programme will not include outbound flights from the UK. Customers who choose to book a new flight with another airline out of the UK will not be eligible for a repatriation flight.
Return flights that are not with Thomas Cook’s airline will still be valid, but other elements of the package, such as accommodation and transfers, might be affected.