Over 140,000 people could be stranded abroad over the weekend as fears that the travel firm Thomas Cook could be on the brink of collapse.
The 178 year old Company is facing a £200m black hole in its finances and warned shareholders that there was a significant risk of no recovery.
If it fails it could leave the British taxpayer to pick up a massive bill under Operation Matterhorn, put together by the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority to repatriate its customers
In July, the firm announced it had struck a rescue deal led by its biggest shareholder, Chinese conglomerate Fosun International, as well as its banks as they agreed to stump up £750 million to save it from bankruptcy.
This emergency injection was topped up by another £150 million from other key backers including hedge funds, to see it through the winter.
However the firms major lenders including Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds, are demanding another £200 million or they will pull the plug on the deal.
Johanna Bonhill-Smith, Travel and Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her view on the firm’s current crisis;
“Thomas Cook’s current woes are compounded by accelerating consumer preferences to book holidays online with the UK online travel sales market value set to grow by 6.3% between 2019 and 2020 and 8.4% between 2020 and 2021 according to GlobalData forecasts.
‘’The age of the typical package holiday tour operator is changing as increasing numbers of holidaymakers use online sites to put together their holidays themselves. Millennial and independent travellers are also directing more of their holiday spend online where tour operators like Thomas Cook face fierce competition.’’