On Monday, the iconic British travel group Thomas Cook abruptly ceased operations after talks with key stakeholders over the weekend to save the company failed. Several tourists are now left stranded at multiple locations around the world and the British government has stepped in to repatriate passengers.
Meanwhile, the India-based Thomas Cook (India) Ltd has distanced itself from the fracas and said that it is a “completely different entity” and that it “only share(s) a brand name through a licensing agreement”.
What happened to the British tour giant Thomas Cook?
Thomas Cook, the world’s oldest travel company, founded in 1841, in the recent past, faced challenges such as competition from online travel agents and tourists independently planning their journeys. Other factors adding to its troubles included weather-related issues as well as political unrest in different parts of the world.
The British company in recent years had been in deep financial trouble and was saddled with debts to the tune of USD 2.5 billion.
According to BBC, the burden of its debts forced Thomas Cook to enter into last-minute negotiations with stakeholders to obtain an additional stimulus of around USD 250 million. These talks failed, causing the company to collapse. The company on its website said that “it had no choice but to take steps to enter into compulsory liquidation with immediate effect”.
The company’s breakdown now imperils over 22,000 jobs around the world, of which 9,000 are in the UK.
How the UK is bringing back stranded passengers
Currently, over 6 lakh tourists with the company are stranded around the world and the British government has announced plans to bring back 1.5 lakh of its nationals.
The repatriation effort, named Operation Matterhorn, is being described as the biggest of its kind in peacetime in British history. Over 45 jets have been chartered by the British government as part of the effort, the BBC reported.
What has Thomas Cook India said?
The Indian company placed itself at a distance when reports of the ensuing crisis emerged from the UK. On September 21 it tweeted:
“TCIL business is not impacted by the business situation of Thomas Cook in UK and we remain committed to our valued customers, partners and employees. We only share a brand name through a licensing agreement.”
TCIL business is not impacted by the business situation of Thomas Cook in UK and we remain committed to our valued customers, partners and employees. We only share a brand name through a licensing agreement pic.twitter.com/5eNYAnie0a
— Thomas Cook India (@tcookin) September 21, 2019
The company’s website also reads the following message:
“With the recent developments relating to the iconic British Travel Company, Thomas Cook PLC, being reported in the media, it is imperative to highlight that Thomas Cook India Group is a completely different entity since August 2012 when 77 per cent of the company was acquired by Fairfax Financial Holdings (Fairfax), a Canada based multinational with varied interests across the globe as well as in India”.
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