24.9 C
New Delhi
Wednesday 23 October 2019
World Matterhorn: UK's biggest repatriation after Thomas Cook collapse

Matterhorn: UK’s biggest repatriation after Thomas Cook collapse

Operation Matterhorn, named after a mountain of the Alps, is modelled on the successful repatriation of passengers after the collapse of Monarch Airways in 2017

-

- Advertisment -

London: The UK government today launched Operation Matterhorn, its biggest peacetime repatriation in British history, after the collapse of tour giant Thomas Cook that left tens of thousands of tourists stranded abroad. UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that the government and UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has, under Operation Matterhorn, hired dozens of charter planes to fly nearly 150,000 customers home free of charge after the 178-year-old travel firm went into compulsory liquidation and all its flights stood cancelled.

The government said all travellers abroad with Thomas Cook who were booked to return to the UK over the next two weeks would be brought home as close as possible to their booked return date.

Thomas Cook’s collapse is very sad news for staff and holidaymakers. The government and UK CAA is working round the clock to help people. “Our contingency planning has helped acquire planes from across the world some from as far away as Malaysia and we have put hundreds of people in call centres and at airports,” said Shapps. “But the task is enormous, the biggest peacetime repatriation in UK history. So, there are bound to be problems and delays. Please try to be understanding with the staff who are trying to assist in what is likely to be a very difficult time for them as well,” he said.

Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook’s chief executive, apologised as he said the firm’s collapse was a “matter of profound regret”. The tour operator’s failure to secure a rescue deal puts 22,000 jobs at risk worldwide, including 9,000 in the UK.

Speaking to reporters on his plane heading to the UN General Assembly in New York, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hinted at possible government action against directors of travel firms who presided over bankruptcies as he said it was time to reflect on whether the directors of these companies are properly incentivised to sort such matters out.

UK Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said she would write to the UK’s Insolvency Service to ask them to prioritise and fast-track their investigation into the circumstances surrounding Thomas Cook going into liquidation. The investigation will also consider the conduct of the directors. “This will be a hugely worrying time for employees of Thomas Cook, as well as their customers. The government will do all it can to support them,” she said.

Meanwhile, the UK CAA said it aims to fly people as close as possible to their booked return date so travellers are being strongly advised not to cut short their holiday or go to the airport without checking the official website for information about their return journey.

The UK CAA is also contacting hotels accommodating Thomas Cook customers, who have booked as part of a package, to tell them that the cost of their accommodation will also be covered by the government, through the Air Travel Trust Fund/ATOL cover. It said that all Thomas Cook customers, wherever they are around the world, will be brought back to the UK on special free flights or booked onto another scheduled airline at no extra cost. A dedicated website will provide all the information customers need to access these flights. A small number of passengers may need to book their own flight home and reclaim the costs.

For flights back to the UK, it does not matter what nationality the traveller is, the UK CAA clarified, adding that hundreds of staff from many government departments and agencies, including the UK CAA, the Department for Transport (DfT), and the UK Foreign Office (FCO), will be deployed in call centres and at airports to help people.

The operation, which has been code-named Operation Matterhorn, is modelled on the successful repatriation of passengers after the collapse of Monarch Airways in 2017. The final cost of Matterhorn to taxpayers was about GBP 50 million. The repatriation effort with Thomas Cook is about twice the size, the UK government said.

Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the UK CAA, said that the nature and scale of Operation Matterhorn meant that, unfortunately, some disruption would be inevitable. “We ask customers to bear with us as we work around the clock to bring them home,” he said.

Thomas Cook was founded in 1841 by a Derbyshire-based cabinet-maker named Thomas Cook and the first holiday took customers 12 miles by train from Leicester to a meeting in Loughborough. In 1928 the family sold up to the Belgian owners of the Orient Express, but the World War II saw it become part of the nationalised British Railways and returned to private ownership in 1972 and has seen a series of mergers and takeovers since.

Thomas Cook (India) Group had already issued a statement last week stressing that it was not affected by the UK-headquartered company, being an entirely different entity since August 2012 when it was acquired by Canada’s Fairfax Financial Holdings (Fairfax).

The operation draws its name from Matterhorn, a mountain of the Alps, straddling the main watershed and border between Switzerland and Italy.

Subscribe to our newsletter

You will get all our latest news and articles via email when you subscribe

The email despatches will be non-commercial in nature
Disputes, if any, subject to jurisdiction in New Delhi

Leave a Reply

Opinion

Aaditya Thackeray, Shiv Sena’s Existential Gambit

With leaders deserting Shiv Sena or debilitated with age, the party's footprint shrinking and Uddhav lacking Balasaheb's charisma, Aaditya had to step in to maintain the dynasty that has mostly been betrayed when politicians not from the Thackeray family were trusted

Karva Chauth: Faith, legend behind viewing the moon through a sieve

The legend and Karva Chauth rituals vary across Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi and, in south India, Andhra Pradesh

Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, Here We Come!

Study Wuhan and Mamallapuram in the backdrop of the fact that things are not quite working out in China-Pakistan economic relations, notwithstanding the urge of the communist state to contain India and that of the Islamic state to challenge it

Slowdown Has Reasons Other Than GST, Demonetisation

When all economic sectors decline, the mood of the market turns sombre, turning investors all the more reluctant to pump in money; the interdependence of industries means that the slowdown suffered by one would affect many

Where China & India, Resisting & Improving Democracy, Meet

What you see in Hong Kong is China resisting democracy; what you see in Kashmir is India promoting it; a reasonably capitalist China does not offer freedom politically but India, held back at times by the choice of the people, is still opening up; there could be a point of convergence as the two nations move in opposite directions
- Advertisement -

Elsewhere

Kartarpur Corridor: Govt yields under Sikh pilgrim pressure

However, India would ask for amendment of the Kartarpur Corridor agreement with Pakistan at any time as per the situation, said the MEA

Kamlesh Tiwari murder: Rashid, Faizan, Mohsin tough nuts to crack

While police suspect Rashid Ahmad Khurshid Ahmad Pathan to be the main conspirator, he managed to delete all photos and videos from his mobile phone before it was seized; now he claims he has nothing to do with the conspiracy to kill the former Hindu Mahasabha leader

Abhijit Banerjee emerges from meeting with PM satisfied

One could derive that sense from the way the joint winner of this year's Nobel Prize for economics narrated how Prime Minister Narendra Modi explained to him his governance model

Love jihad did not spare even a BJP leader’s daughter?

While former BJP MLA Surendra Nath Singh accuses Congress MLA Arif Masood of engineering 'love jihad', the latter, as well as 26-year-old Bharti, denies the charge

Muslim moulding-of-relief affidavit leaked before reaching SC

Just a query from the CJI and no further action against the petitioners is yet another instance after Rajeev Dhavan's act of tearing a map submitted by one of the Hindu parties where the Supreme Court was seen treating the Muslim side with kid-gloves

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you

%d bloggers like this: