Insurers Brace for Travel Firm Collapse Fallout

Travel insurers have been inundated by desperate calls from tourists trapped abroad following the collapse of the Thomas Cook Group.

After days of talks the travel agency and holiday firm announced it ceased trading and had been placed into liquidation.

It has prompted a huge and complex rescue plan from the UK Government in an effort to repatriate the estimated 150,000 holidaymakers amid chaotic scenes across the world.

Thomas Cook issued a statement which said: “The Government and the Civil Aviation Authority are now working together to do everything we can to support passengers due to fly back to the UK with Thomas Cook between 23 September 2019 and 6 October 2019. Depending on your location, this will be either on CAA-operated flights or by using existing flights with other airlines.

“This repatriation is hugely complex and we are working around the clock to support passengers. “

The Civil Aviation Authority said with over 150,000 Thomas Cook customers abroad, the rescue effort will be almost twice the number that were repatriated following the failure of Monarch.

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 and customers, 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 on what is the UK’s largest ever peacetime repatriation.

“We have launched, at very short notice, what is effectively one of the UK’s largest airlines, involving a fleet of aircraft secured from around the world. The nature and scale of the operation means that unfortunately some disruption will be inevitable. We ask customers to bear with us as we work around the clock to bring them home.”

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.

The government has said it will fly those who booked flights only back to the UK, as long as they are due to return within the next fortnight. If not they will be left to fund their own return flights.

Insurer Columbus Direct said: “Where your Columbus Direct travel insurance policy includes cover for scheduled airline failure, this would provide cover for any irrecoverable costs incurred for flight arrangements home. This would not apply where the government are able to provide you with transportation back to the United Kingdom.

“The scheduled airline failure section does not provide cover for any additional costs or losses relating to pre-booked accommodation, car hire, cruises and transfers. These costs are not covered by any other section of the policy.

“If the government cannot bring you back until after your policy was due to expire, our cover will automatically extend until you are able to return home.”

For those who have yet to travel it added: “If you only had flights booked with Thomas Cook, you will be able to claim for any irrecoverable flight costs if there is Scheduled Airline Failure cover on your Columbus Direct policy. If you booked directly with Thomas Cook you should check with your debit/credit card provider to see if you can recover your costs. If you booked via a Travel Agent, you will need to check with them first as you may have been ATOL protected.

“If you have not been able to recover your flight costs this way, you can call IPP Claims to make a claim against the scheduled airline failure cover on your policy. Your Columbus Direct policy does not cover any other costs relating to the trip. This includes any unused accommodation, car hire, parking charges or transfer costs.”