Thomas Cook collapse Brings another crisis for the Canary Islands
The collapse of the Thomas Cook Group, including the UK tour operator and airline, announced on Monday is being described as the “biggest crisis facing the Canary Islands” in years and could have lasting repercussions.
As the Tenerife News went to press, there was still the tiniest of chances that the busines might be saved or given an extension lifeline as hoteliers in the archipelago joined with others elsewhere to try and arrange some sort of financial rescue package.
Whatever happens, it still left around 150,000 people stranded at their holiday destinations, including an estimated 25,000 in the Canaries, and the plans of thousands of others in tatters.
The Brits are the leading market for the Canaries and losing Thomas Cook is a massive blow.
Thomas Cook had brought more than four million visitors a year to the islands and was the second most important tour operator in the Canaries. Be-tween January and August of this year, 2.6 million visitors arrived through Thomas Cook, mainly British.
All the tourist groups of the islands had only just raised a number of worries with the Canary Government, including the uncertainty of Brexit, the drop in German visitors and the changing habits of many Nordic tourists, concerned about the environmental impact of air transport.
The air connectivity of the Canary Islands is one of the most prominent issues at the moment, compounded by the announcement of the closure of bases in the islands by Ryanair.
For those left stranded in the Canaries, the biggest issue as of Monday was when they would get home and it might not be immediate.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority’s repatriation progra-mme will run until Sunday, October 6th. It is also contacting hotels accommodating Tho-mas Cook customers as part of a holiday package to let them know that the cost of the accommodation for these customers will be covered by the ATOL scheme.
The Civil Aviation Authority has launched a special web-site, thomascook.caa.co.uk, where affected customers can find details and information on repatriation flights, as well as advice on accommodation for both ATOL and non-ATOL customers.
“Due to the significant scale of the situation, some disruption is inevitable, but the Civil Aviation Authority will endeavour to get people home as close as possible to their planned dates,” said a spokes-man.
ATOL Protected passengers with future bookings are entitled to a full refund for their cancelled holiday. Passengers currently overseas may also make claims for the cost of replacing ATOL protected parts of their trip, or for out-of-pocket expenses as a result of delayed flights home. The Civil Aviation Authority will be launching a service to manage all refunds by Monday 30 September, once the flying operation has progressed. This refunds service will seek to process all refunds within 60 days of full information being received.
Richard Moriarty, Chief Executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “News of Thomas Cook’s collapse is deeply saddening for the company’s employees, cus-tomers, hoteliers and other suppliers and we appreciate that more than 150,000 people currently abroad will be anxious about how they will now return to the UK.”
“The government has asked us to support Thomas Cook customers and we have launched a programme to bring them home, which also includes costs to hotels accommodating Thomas Cook customers under the Air Travel Trust’s ATOL scheme.”
Anyone affected by this news can check the CAA’s dedicated website, thomasco-ok.caa.co.uk, for advice and information.