THOMAS Cook has been forced to reassure customers that their summer holidays will still go ahead amid fears that the company could go bust.
The struggling travel firm’s future was thrown up in the air after it revealed a £1.5billion loss in the first half of the year caused by huge debts.
Since the news broke, hundreds of worried holidaymakers flooded the tour operator’s Facebook page asking whether trips would still go ahead if the company was sold or went bust.
Now, the UK’s oldest travel company has said that customers can have “complete confidence” in Thomas Cook.
The operator, which is led by German chief executive Peter Frankhauser, told The Sun: “We have ample resources to operate our business and at the same time, as usual, our liquidity position continues to strengthen into the summer period.
“As an ATOL-protected business, all of our holidays are protected under the package travel directive, so our customers can have complete confidence in booking their holiday with us.
“We’re looking forward to the summer season with 20 new own-brand hotels openings and some great offers for customers.”
On the Thomas Cook Facebook page, one traveller posted: “I’m flying to Menorca six weeks today. I hope the financial situation will be settled soon.”
Another said: “I just booked for next May to Turkey I really hope your not going into liquidation.”
A third wrote: “Are you going into administration? because I have a holiday booked in October.”
How do I know if my holiday is ATOL protected?
WHEN you book a holiday, the ATOL holder or their agent must give you a certificate confirming you are ATOL protected as soon as you hand over any money – including a deposit – for a holiday or flight.
Make sure you obtain and keep all the relevant paperwork in case you need to make a claim.
But be aware, the protection only covers British-based firms, so it’s vital to check. When lowcostholidays went bust in 2016, customers weren’t protected by ATOL because the company had moved to Spain in 2013.
Some travel companies display the ATOL logo on their websites even though they don’t offer financial protection.
To check it’s genuine, look for a number on the logo and check it out on the CAA’s website.
You should be wary if the travel provider has no ATOL number, or if the number doesn’t have four or five digits.
If you aren’t sure about the website, don’t book through it.
Another key term Brits should be aware of is ABTA. While ATOL protects flight-based packages, ABTA protects everything else such as cruise or self-drive trips.
A member of the firm’s social media team replied to on worried tweeter: “This announcement has no impact on future holidays or flight only bookings.
“All our holidays are fully ATOL-protected, so customers can continue to book with confidence.”
Customers who booked holidays through companies that are protected by the Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing scheme – or AOTL – will be able to get a refund if it collapses.
On Thursday, the firm issued a fresh profit warning and reported a half-year loss of almost £1.5bn after a goodwill write-off of £1.1bn, reports The Times.
Analysts at investment bank Citigroup on Friday branded their shares “worthless” and said they should be marked at zero.
Thomas Cook, which served 22 million customers last year, has debts of around £1.25bn.
The company has struggled in recent years to keep up with changing habits of customers in the advent of the internet bookings including agregator sites which offer low prices for flights and hotels.
Mr Fankhauser has blamed Brexit uncertainty and last year’s heatwave for the downturn in business.
At the time, he said: “The prolonged heatwave last summer and high prices in the Canaries reduced customer demand for winter sun, particularly in the Nordic region, while there is now little doubt that the Brexit process has led many UK customers to delay their holiday plans for this summer.”
In February, the company put their airline business up for sale in a bid to raise some much-needed cash and reduce its debt.
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Bosses are also carrying out cost-cutting measures including sacking 150 head office workers and closing 21 shops resulting in the loss of 320 retail jobs.
Auditors Ernst & Young this week said there was “material uncertainty” around the sale of the firm’s airline division.
However, while publishing its half-year results, the auditor said that the company, a British household name, should be able to stay afloat considering all the uncertainties it faces.
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