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Published on Monday, May 20, 2019

Industry urged to get behind Thomas Cook as speculation mounts

Agents are being urged to get behind Thomas Cook in its time of troubles in order to protect the whole travel industry.

Independents and rival agents are being told to rally round amid growing speculation about Cook's financial situation, with some newspapers dishing out advice to customers worried the 175-year-old company might go bust.

On the travel industry Facebook forum Travel Gossip, some agents have been posting negative remarks about the group's well-documented struggles.

But others have been pointing out that if anything happens to Thomas Cook, the effects will be 'devastating' for agencies across the UK.

And they expressed their sympathy for Cook staff who are having to field calls from customers, and who might be worried about losing their own jobs, saying they deserved the support of their industry peers. 

Thomas Cook has been busy over the weekend trying to restore calm amongst its customers who are concerned about the safety of their holiday bookings.

Its social media pages have been flooded with messages from worried customers looking for reassurance after the damaging reports.

Thomas Cook dismissed the reports as speculation, telling customers it's 'business as usual'.

Responding on Facebook, its customer services team said: "There might be a lot of chatter about us in the news at the moment but it's all based on speculation.

"It's business as normal for us as we continue to take customers on their flights and holidays with us and that's not going to change at all. It's also important to remember that if you have a package holiday with us you'll have ATOL protection. We've been taking customers on their holidays with us for over 175 years and we plan to do so for a very long time to come."

Thomas Cook's share value plummeted on Friday after Wall Street bank Citigroup said shares were worthless and advised investors to sell up.

It came after Thomas Cook reported a pre-tax loss of £1.46 billion over the winter, £1.15 billion more than the same period in 2018, pushing its net debt up to £1.25 billion. At the end of winter 2018, the group's debt stood at £886 million.

Over the weekend, reports also emerged that the group's Nordic payment card processor wants to extend the period it holds on to customers' cash to several weeks, from just a few days, amid the concerns over Cook's financial situation.

A Thomas Cook spokesman told TravelMole today: "We have taken a number of proactive steps in recent months to strengthen our financial position. We have the support of our lending banks and major shareholders, and just this week we agreed additional funding for our coming winter cash low period.

"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."

Meanwhile, Jon Platt, the father who lost a lengthy court battle over taking his daughter out of school to go on holiday, claims Thomas Cook and other travel companies have been affected by the recent clampdown on term-time absences. Read the story here.


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