Thomas Cook Airlines suspends operations, planes impounded

Photo: © Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook Airlines UK and sister company Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia are ceasing flight operations with immediate effect. All aircraft are of the British leisure airline being impounded on arrival in the United Kingdom.

The carrier had suspended selling tickets earlier at around 01:30 am local time on Monday morning. Planes of the airline are immediately being impounded once they arrive back in the UK. First pictures appeared on social media just before 1 am time, which show a detention letter on one of Thomas Cook’s Airbus A321s at Manchester Airport.

MT2643 from Orlando, Thomas Cook Airlines UK’s final flight, arrived at Manchester Airport at around 8:30 am local time on Monday. It was operated by a 20 year-old Airbus A330-200 which was previously flying for the airlines Airtours International Airways and MyTravel Airways, the latter one was merged with Thomas Cook Airlines in 2007.

This comes after failed last-minute talks to avoid insolvency of the Thomas Cook Group plc, the owner of Thomas Cook Airlines. The 178 year-old British travel company filed for insolvency and ceased trading in the night from Sunday to Monday.

Thomas Cook has confirmed that all the companies in its group have ceased trading, including Thomas Cook Airlines.
As a result, we are sorry to inform you that all holidays and flights provided by these companies have been cancelled and are no longer operating.UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

Update: Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia resumed flight operations on Tuesday morning. However, the British carrier remains permanently grounded.

A total of 600,000 Thomas Cook customers could now be affected while being abroad, including around 150,000 Britons. On Sunday, British foreign secretary Dominic Raab confirmed that the government has contingency planning in place to avoid citizens being stranded outside the UK.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of the United Kingdom has made arrangements to organize the biggest peacetime repatriation in UK history, named “Operation Matterhorn”. Local media reports that around 40 charter planes, including several Airbus A380 and Boeing 747s are standing ready to bring stranded passengers back home. The CAA says it will operate rescue flights for affected passengers until October 6th. For most destinations in Europe and northern Africa, it will arrange charter flights; while people travelling across the Atlantic will mostly be booked on existing capacities by other airlines.

Passengers who booked a package holiday are ‘ATOL’ protected and can therefore claim a refund via the CAA, or rearrange flights with their respective travel agency if they booked through a company other than Thomas Cook. The CAA has built up a dedicated website for affected travelers.

UK-based Thomas Cook Airlines employed more than 2,500 people. Combined with Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia, it was operating an all-Airbus fleet of 45 planes, including 11 Airbus A330, making it the second largest airline within the Thomas Cook Group, just behind Germany-based sister company Condor.

The German carrier of the Thomas Cook Group stated on Sunday that it would continue to operate, despite the liquidation of its owner, and has applied for a transitional loan from the government of Germany. On Tuesday, it was confirmed that Germany and the state of Hesse have approved a rescue loan of €380 million (US $419 million) for Condor, pending approval by the European Commission.

This is a developing story. Updates to follow.

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