Free repatriation for 150,000 Thomas Cook passengers?
Not all exits are graceful – as exemplified by Thomas Cook’s abrupt bankruptcy and cessation of trade. As soon as Thomas Cook declared bankruptcy, up to 600,000 passengers were left stranded in many parts of the world.
Based on initial reports, Thomas Cook passengers were unaware that the airline company’s bankruptcy process is well on its way. The moment the last Thomas Cook plane landed, passengers received the full brunt of the news and total inconvenience.
Ongoing rescue operations
The British Government and the Civil Aviation Authority have joined forces to launch a massive peacetime repatriation effort known as Operation Matterhorn. According to The Guardian, dozens of private rescue planes were sent to rescue all stranded Thomas Cook passengers.
Launching the operation is a manageable feat, at least according to some experts. But these experts also believe that global coordination will become a challenge in the coming days. Booking problems are now prevalent in various airlines, as well as in Thomas Cook-affiliated hotels and travel resorts.
Free trip back to the UK: courtesy of billionaires?
Word on the streets of Majorca is that several private businessmen including Amancio Ortega, Carlos Slim, James Richman, Francois Pinault and others are open to the idea of helping the UK government in the repatriation program of up to 150,000 UK holidaymakers in Spain by lending a plane or two. Several stranded travelers are in talks with volunteers who are going to lobby and persuade the reclusive billionaires to lend a plane or two towards those who are in need of emergency repatriation.
We’ve spoken with one traveler, Victoria Chandler, shares that her son was in need of immediate transportation as they only managed to bring a limited amount of medication thinking that their first holiday abroad would go without any hassles.
Once this pushes through, a private plane can carry between 10 and 100 people, while some designs can even go higher. Given that scale, the billionaires’ planes will need multiple trips spanning a few days or more.
Should the plan commence, experts believe, the global rescue effort will become more manageable. Passengers with emergency medical conditions will also be prioritized during the rescue.
A protracted disaster
Even though Thomas Cook is the world’s oldest airliner company, it’s not the most efficient. Financial analysts have estimated that the company owns a debt of approximately $2.5 billion.
There are many reasons attributed to Thomas Cook’s Downfall, but mismanagement is a chief factor. Instead of focusing on modernization and going online, the company increased its number of storefronts over the years. This improved the company’s visibility for a while, but expenses increased by a significant percentage.
A debate also sparked in the community regarding the government’s lack of financial assistance to the suffering airliner. Some experts have stated that the government was right not to step in because the company is on the way to bankruptcy. Any bail-out option will only prolong the inevitable by a few weeks.
But from every disaster comes an opportunity – Thomas Cook’s competitors have stepped in and began offering help to stranded passengers. TUI Airlines, for example, has arranged new flights for Thomas Cook passengers, while Condor – Thomas Cook’s partner – resumed normal operations. Despite this, Condor has requested financial assistance from the government, New York Times reported.
British officials estimate that it will take weeks before the chaos settles down, but full support will be given to all affected passengers.