Govt agrees with several carriers to fill in void left by Thomas Cook collapse

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
Published 10.10.2019 02:02

Turkey has already made the necessary agreements with several international carriers to make up for the seat capacity vacated after the collapse of the U.K-based tour operator Thomas Cook last month.

These companies will provide an additional capacity of nearly 1.2 million for 2020 to replace 850,000 seats vacated with the bankruptcy of the British operator, according to a graphic shared by the Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy over his social media account on Tuesday.

According to the graphic, British budget airline EasyJet will provide additional capacity for 507,000 people annually. Thomas Cook's top rival TUI will be providing additional capacity of 325,000, British tour operator jet2.com will provide 325,788, British Airways 15,637 and national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) and its joint venture with German carrier Lufthansa, SunExpress will provide 25,000, a figure Ersoy says could increase.

"When there is a loss of capacity, a solution can be brought either by creating a new player or by apportioning it to existing players. We have done both," Ersoy said in an interview broadcast on Tuesday. The minister said they invited the CEOs of international tour operators to the capital Ankara and made written agreements with them from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1-2.

"We have eliminated the capacity risk. This season, Thomas Cook has a U.K. supply of 820,000-850,000 seats. We have replaced them with 1.2 million seats. Among these, British Airways is launching a scheduled flight to Antalya and Dalaman and even wants to increase the number. We will also provide intense promotional support to companies. They are very pleased that we are acting fast," Ersoy noted.

Just hours after Thomas Cook's collapse on Sept. 23, the Culture and Tourism Ministry said it was working with the Treasury and Finance Ministry on a loan package, estimated at around 50 million euros, to be put in place as soon as possible to help affected businesses.

Ersoy stated that the first step was the loan support package, adding that they compensated and increased the vacant capacity in the second stage. "And in the third phase we are launching a major promotion attack in the U.K. and Germany to increase the sales of this capacity," he underscored.

U.K. TRAVEL FIRM HAYS TO BUY STORES FROM THOMAS COOKBritish firm Hays Travel said yesterday it had agreed to buy all 555 of Thomas Cook's U.K. stores, potentially saving up to 2,500 jobs and providing a rare boost for high streets across the country.

Hays has already recruited 421 former Thomas Cook staff, a statement said. "Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand employing talented people. We look forward to working with many of them," said the independent travel agent's founders, John and Irene Hays.

"The agreement will see Hays Travel acquire a total of 555 stores around the U.K., providing re-employment opportunities for a significant number of former employees of Thomas Cook's retail operations who were made redundant," the statement added.

David Chapman, the official receiver handling the winding up of Thomas Cook, was cited by Associated Press (AP) yesterday as saying that the deal "represents an important step

in the liquidation process, as we seek to realize the company's assets."

The debt-laden, 178-year-old company collapsed last month, leaving hundreds of thousands of travelers stranded around the world and 21,000 employees, including 9,000 in the U.K., facing unemployment.

Some 150,000 British travelers were flown home at the government's expense in the biggest repatriation effort since World War II.

The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Monday said that it was launching its largest ever customer reimbursement program under the Air Travel Organizer's License (ATOL) scheme.

The scheme is a safety net, based on an EU directive and managed by the CAA, that covers tourists who have bought all-inclusive trips with flights and hotels.

The CAA expects to issue refunds to more than 360,000 Thomas Cook bookings covering trips that were due to be taken by about 800,000 people.

The CAA added that it would seek to pay refunds within 60 days of receiving a valid application.

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