German, Austrian, Polish arms of Thomas Cook file for insolvency

Berlin – German, Austrian and Polish arms of the travel agency Thomas Cook filed for insolvency on Wednesday after their parent company, Britain’s Thomas Cook, ceased operations earlier this week.

British tour operator Thomas Cook collapsed and filed for liquidation on Monday. The collapse has left tens of thousands of holidaymakers stranded and local tourism industries bracing for a financial blow.

The British government is currently working on flights to repatriate its citizens and has announced an inquiry into how the collapse occurred, with a particular focus on recent executive payouts.

Thomas Cook Austria said it aims to continue its operations under creditor protection as it announced its plans to file for insolvency.

Neckermann Polska, a Polish branch of Thomas Cook GmbH, announced it would file a separate motion for insolvency which will be submitted to a Warsaw court “in the coming days.” It said it would launch insurance guarantees to finance the return of some 3,600 clients currently travelling.

German travel agency Thomas Cook GmbH also filed for insolvency. It announced earlier this week that it was appealing to Berlin for a bridging loan.

A government source told dpa on Wednesday that Thomas Cook GmbH had applied for a bridging loan of 375 million euros (412 million dollars) and that the request was still pending.

Some 140,000 people are currently travelling with the German Thomas Cook or its brands Neckermann, Oeger Tours, Air Marin and Bucher Reisen. It was not immediately clear what the insolvency means for the tourists.

With respect to the German operation, Stefanie Berk, head of Thomas Cook GmbH, said: “We naturally wanted to avoid this legal step, but no short-term solution could be achieved through negotiations.”

The German courts are expected to appoint an experienced administrator as early as Wednesday to lead the company through the insolvency process.

Condor, a separate German subsidiary of Britain’s Thomas Cook receives a government loan

The announcement comes soon after Condor, a separate German subsidiary of Britain’s Thomas Cook, said it had been granted a 380-million-euro (420-million-dollar) bridging loan by the German federal government and the state government of Hesse late Tuesday, with each bearing half the costs.

Payment of the loan depends on approval from the European Commission. If approved, Condor would be able to cut its ties with its parent company.

The head of Condor, Ralf Teckentrup, said the company was in talks with potential buyers of the company. “We have started talks with interested solvent parties over the last two days,” he said.

“Our business is continuing as planned, and we will continue to ensure that our guests arrive reliably and safely at their destination,” Teckentrup said. “Our fleet is in operation, and the ticket sale for flights with Condor is continuing as normal.”

Services trade union Verdi welcomed the state intervention to save Condor and protect almost 5,000 jobs.

“The company can continue to operate over the months ahead with this bridging loan,” Verdi executive member Christine Behle said in Berlin.

She praised the federal government and the state of Hesse for taking responsibility.

Speaking on Tuesday, Hesse state premier Volker Bouffier said: “Condor is a profitable company from Hesse that became a victim of its British parent company and of Brexit. We and the federal government believe that a new owner can keep Condor in the air for the long term.”

Facts and Figures about Thomas Cook Company