Thomas Cook bankruptcy: who takes care of the travellers?

On Monday, September 23, 2019, Thomas Cook is overwhelmed by debts. His bankruptcy was announced as thousands of customers were travelling. No less than 600 000 travellers are stranded around the world.

Thomas CookThe tour operator has promised to continue repatriating customers until October 6, 2019. After this date, people who have been stranded during their stay will have to make their own arrangements to return.

It should be noted that, in general, travel insurance does not cover repatriation in the event of the tour operator's bankruptcy. Insurance companies have given way to government funds that are responsible for compensating and assisting customers of tour operators in crisis.

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Thomas Cook bankruptcy: government schemes to compensate travellers

To deal with the consequences of Thomas Cook's bankruptcy, some countries, notably those of the European Union, have guarantee funds that come into play as soon as a member company declares bankruptcy. Also, the EU directive, signed on 11 December 2015, ensures full refund to travellers if they buy a package including transport and accommodation.

In the United Kingdom

The Air Travel Organiser's License (ATOL) guarantee fund is responsible for reimbursing the travellers impacted by the bankruptcy of the tour operator Thomas Cook. The reimbursement deadline is set at 2 months following the filing of claims. ATOL is funded through a commission of GBP 2.50 (3 USD) levied on each trip.

The cost of thomas Cook's collapse could exceed 500 million GBP (614.2 million USD). The repatriation of holidaymakers has already reached 100 million GBP (122.8 million USD), while the refund of reservations would be around 420 million GBP (516 million USD).

In France

On Friday, September 27, 2019, Thomas Cook declared a suspension of payment, not its insolvency. Thus, the company has not yet gone bankrupt in France. The bankruptcy will be filed in the coming days.

Exceptional measures have been set up by the French State. The professional association for tourism solidarity (APST) is responsible for the compensation of travellers, and ensures the repatriation of 2 180 customers until 30 September 2019. The association estimates the costs at 5 million EUR (5.47 million USD), a figure which could increase further.

APST also ensures the return of travellers who must go back home as from 1 October 2019.

In Belgium

It is the GFG travel guarantee fund which ensures the repatriation operations. Over the weekend of September 28, 2019, nearly 4 700 travellers were repatriated. According to the fund's estimates, 72 000 Thomas Cook customers are harmed by the bankruptcy of the tour operator in Belgium: 55 000 for 2019 and 17 000 for 2020.

GFG, which is calling for the payment suspension of any lump sums settlements by the tour operator, estimates the cost of bankruptcy at nearly 20 million EUR (21.87 million USD).

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