Huge Airlift Planned for 600K Travelers

Debt-laden Thomas Cook is teetering on the edge
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 22, 2019 4:50 PM CDT
Huge Airlift Planned for 600K Travelers
In this file photo, a Thomas Cook plane takes off in England.   (Tim Goode/PA via AP, file)

(Newser) – More than 600,000 vacationers who booked through tour operator Thomas Cook were on edge Sunday, wondering if they will be able to get home, as one of the world's oldest and biggest travel companies teetered on the edge of collapse. The debt-laden company, which confirmed Friday it was seeking the equivalent of $250 million in funding to avoid going bust, was in talks with shareholders and creditors to stave off failure, the AP reports. A collapse could leave around 150,000 travelers from Britain stranded, along with hundreds of thousands from other countries. Meanwhile, several airplanes were being prepped to rescue customers worldwide in case Thomas Cook collapses, per the Telegraph—which calls the plan "the country's biggest peacetime repatriation."

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Tensions rose at Les Orangers resort in Tunisia when staff and armed guards blocked the doors and demanded thousands of dollars still unpaid by visitors. "The staff were manhandling some guests and fighting," says a tourist. Meanwhile, the company is trying to reassure customers that flights were continuing to operate as normal. Most of Thomas Cook's British customers are protected by the government-run travel insurance program, which makes sure vacationers can get home if a British-based tour operator goes under while they are abroad. Thomas Cook's financial difficulties also raised questions about the jobs of the 22,000 people employed by the company around the world, including 9,000 in Britain. (Here's a hotel for only the bravest travelers.)

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