Travelers await Thomas Cook rescue talks | News | DW | 22.09.2019
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Travelers await Thomas Cook rescue talks

Thomas Cook, Europe's London-based travel concern, hung by a thread Sunday as it sought further investment funds while 600,000 holidaymakers worried. If stranded, the British government says it has plans "in place."

Creditors held marathon talks Sunday as the Thomas Cook Group sought an extra £200 million ( €226 million, $250 million) or else faces administration.

That would be on top of a £900 million package already agreed, including an injection by the China's Fosun Tourism Group, a key shareholder, last month.

On Sunday, a meeting of Thomas Cook's board was to be held subsequent to the investors negotiations, said to include "core lending banks."

Awaited was a statement Thomas Cook was due to make to the London stock market by early Monday.

Read more: Thomas Cook request UK state bailout

Condor, a German airline owned by Thomas Cook, said its parent company was doing everything it could to secure fresh funds.

"Negotiations with all key stakeholders are complex and ongoing," said Condor in a statement. Also included in Thomas Cook is the German travel enterprise Neckermann-Reisen.

Uncertainty for thousands of holidaymakers

In response to one worried customer, Thomas Cook wrote in a message carried by Reuters that despite unsettling news "our flight operations continue to operate as usual."

Some 600,000 customers, including 160,000 from Britain, were estimated to be currently on holiday with Thomas Cook, a 178 year-old enterprise.

Globally, the group has 22,000 employees, 9,000 of them in Britain.

Britain's Transport Salaried Staffs Association, representing employees, called on the British government to help the concern.

"The company must be rescued no matter what," said TSSA General Secretary Manuel Corttes.

Foreign Minister Dominic Raab replied only that "in the worst-case scenario, the contingency planning is there for people to avoid being stranded."

"We don't systematically step in … unless there is a good strategic national interest for doing so," Raab told public broadcaster BBC.

Britain's transport ministry told Germany's DPA news agency: "We don't speculate over the financial situation of individual businesses."

Some holidaymakers, according to the French news agency AFP, were already facing problems, with guests being asked for extra money before departing a hotel in Tunsia.

Andy Burnham, the British opposition Labour party's mayor of Manchester, where many staff are based, said he understood that a rescue package "can be done."

"But time is running out," said Burnham. The mayor urged Britain's Brexit-embroiled conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson to "intervene today and do all he can today to save this great name in the British high street."

Thomas Cook, which from 1841 pioneered package holidays, has in recent years been struggling with debt, competition from low-budget airlines, Brexit and disruptive events such as Turkey's coup, Europe's heatwaves and fluctuating fuel prices.

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ipj/se (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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