What Happens To Your Holiday If Thomas Cook Sells Up?
Earlier this week the travel agency announced a pre-tax loss of almost £1.5bn in the six months leading up to March, with its value going down from £2.2 billion to just £180 million in a year.
All sounds pretty grim, but what does this mean to me and you? Ultimately, what customers really want to know is whether there's a chance that Thomas Cook will be sold, split or maybe even closed down - and how that will affect any holidays we've got booked with the company.
Although it's unlikely such a strong brand will be totally shut down, it's still good to know where you stand and what the craic is if you have actually booked with them.
Thomas Cook, which had around 22 million customers last year, has debts of around £1.2bn (per The Financial Times), and has confirmed that several other companies have put in bids for parts or all of its business.
What's likely to be part of the reason it's struggling is that it still has bricks-and-mortar branches on the high street, rather than being purely based online like many other operators. Some more of its 566 stores will close when leases end and 150 jobs are being cut.
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Thankfully, you can be assured that you won't be left short of money if anything does happen. This is thanks to the fact their holidays are protected by ATOL, a scheme that protects people when booking holidays.
Every single company in the UK that sells package holidays and flights needs to have an an ATOL - which stands for Air Travel Organiser's Licence.
If a travel company with an ATOL ceases trading, the scheme protects customers who had booked through them, which means they are guaranteed not to get stranded abroad, or to lose money through no fault of their own.
Speaking to The Sun, Martyn James, a money expert who owns Resolver, said: "When you book a holiday you enter into a contract - so if another business takes over then your holiday transfers over to the new owners and you shouldn't experience any problems.
"However, it pays to know your rights if a mistake or problem occurs.
"If the firm changes something about the holiday significantly (like the dates, hotel, flights) then you should be able to cancel without penalty - though I'd expect them to come up with a suitable alternative."
He added: "However, always take out a good travel insurance policy - and make sure it begins from the moment you book, so you're covered if you can't travel for any reason."
Sounds like good advice.
Featured Image Credit: PA