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Thomas Cook collapse leaves Newmarket customers in limbo

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Newmarket customers of Thomas Cook were anxiously waiting for it to open this morning after news the firm had collapsed overnight.

The branch of the 178-year-old business in the Guineas Shopping Centre was shut today after the company's last-ditch rescue talks failed overnight.

Earlier today Peter Fankhauser, the company's chief executive, said Thomas Cook's collapse was a "matter of profound regret" and apologised to the business' customers and staff.

Thomas Cook, Newmarket (17296154)
Thomas Cook, Newmarket (17296154)

"Despite huge efforts over a number of months and further intense negotiations in recent days we have not been able to secure a deal to save our business. I know this outcome will be devastating to many people and will cause a lot of anxiety, stress and disruption," he said.

Thomas Cook and its associated companies, including Thomas Cook Airlines, has stopped operating.

Some 9,000 jobs are at risk in the UK and 150,000 British holiday makers will have to be repatriated.

The sudden collapse has left James and Linda Moss having to try and re-arrange their Thomas Cook flight to Majorca, scheduled for 6am tomorrow. The couple had booked their holiday through another travel firm, and this morning were hoping they could still go on their trip abroad with another airline.

Michael Williams had booked a £6,000 Christmas holiday to Cuba with the firm about three weeks ago and was at the store today hoping he would be able to speak to staff because he was concerned about not yet having an ATOL certificate.

He said staff assured him the future of the company was safe when he booked his break.

"They must have known months ago that this was in the pipeline. They should not have been selling more holidays. They say they 'have to keep afloat' but it they were bankrupt they were bankrupt. They have stole our money," he said.

Also waiting outside the store today was Valerie Hutchinson, who had a Thomas Cook travel card with hundreds of pounds on - money which she has probably lost.

"It's a shame that people are losing their jobs," she said. "Just how did the company get into this state?"

Her sentiments were echoed by Ann West, who was set to travel to Turkey with the company in November.

"This was my travel agent. I have used them for 14 years and I have never had a problem. The service was excellent, the staff were honest and compassionate and friendly," she said. "It's sad to see, very sad."

How do I get my money back?

Customers can visit the Civil Aviation Authority's special website to find out more about claiming a refund or contact them on 0300 303 2800 in the UK or +44 1753 330 330 if abroad.

This only applies if your holiday is ATOL protected.

By law every firm in the UK that sells package holidays is required to hold an Air Travel Organiser's Licence.

If the travel company stops trading, like Thomas Cook has, the scheme protects customers who have booked packages.

Have you been affected by the closure? Email dan.barker@newmarketjournal.co.uk with your story.