Days after UK travel agency Thomas Cook ceased operations and left tens of thousands stranded, its German subsidiary has also filed for insolvency. Restructuring efforts are underway to get the firm back on its feet.
Germany's Thomas Cook GmbH, a daughter company of the UK's Thomas Cook, filed for insolvency in Germany, its representatives said on Wednesday.
The subsidiary said they were "forced" to take the step in order to disengage themselves from "financial entanglements and liabilities" after the UK's Thomas Cook filed for insolvency earlier this week. The firm added they would restructure in order to be able to run the business on their own.
Tens of thousands of travelers were left stranded when the UK company unexpectedly ceased operations on Monday.
The UK government said they would operate over 70 flights on Wednesday to bring home some 16,500 people that had been left stranded due to the company's collapse.
In total, Thomas Cook UK had about 600,000 customers abroad when the news of its insolvency broke early on Monday. Britain's Civil Aviation Authority described the repatriation effort as the biggest since World War II.
Several subsidiaries across the EU were also left scrambling after the parent company's demise. Thomas Cook's Polish arm has also announced it was insolvent, local authorities said.
Swiss insurance firm to pay for hotels
On Monday, the German company halted all of its trips. Some 140,000 people were currently traveling abroad with the subsidiary or its brands Neckermann, Öger Tours, Air Marin and Bucher Reisen.
"We are currently in communication with the Foreign Ministry, the insolence insurance company, and other partners with the aim of enabling an orderly return of our guests," Thomas Cook GmbH said on their website.
Swiss-based Zurich Insurance Group will cover the costs of stranded holidaymakers, Germany's travel association DRV said.
"It was confirmed to DRV that Zurich Insurance will take on expenses agreed between Thomas Cook Germany and operators, such as hotels and airlines," the travelers' association said on Wednesday.
According to their information, hotels have no reason to ask for payment directly from travelers. The Swiss insurance company is also obliged to bring the passengers home.
Loan for Condor but not for Thomas Cook GmbH?
Another Thomas Cook subsidiary in Germany, Condor, previously said they were granted a €380 million ($418 million) government loan to keep them afloat. The management of Thomas Cook GmbH also applied for a bridging loan.
However, the talks with the German government had "unfortunately not led to a short-term solution," said company chief Stefanie Berk.
Separately, the premier of Germany's state of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, said his state would look into the loan request sent by Thomas Cook GmbH.
"In principle, we are ready to help," he said.
However, state aid would only be approved if there is certainty that the company would be able to continue operating in the future, the politician added. The German subsidiary of Thomas Cook is headquartered in the Hesse town of Oberursel, just outside of Frankfurt.
Burdened by Brexit
Thomas Cook Germany achieved 2017/18 revenues of €3.8 billion ($4.2 billion) in Europe's largest economy, more than 40% of the group's total revenues. It also boasts about 2,000 employees in Germany.
Announcing structural reforms, the German Thomas Cook said their business was "profitable, but long burdened by the weak business of Thomas Cook in the UK and by Brexit."
"The overall positive feedback from our talks during the last few days makes us confident that traditional brands such as Neckermann Reisen, Öger Tours and Bucher Reisen would have a chance to go back to business soon," the company representatives said.
dj/ng (Reuters, dpa)