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The collapse of Thomas Cook

To all the people affected by the Thomas Cook collapse, we pass on our deepest sympathy.

We would like to quote one of our colleagues in the industry, who put some words on the collapse from a crew point of view:

The Thomas Cook media coverage
Stranded passengers, lack of information, shambles at airports, ruined holidays – these are frequent headlines following the collapse of the travel giant Thomas Cook.

But how about the people who worked for Thomas Cook or its partner-ship businesses, the local communities at the destinations they flew to. They have lost their income and may also be stuck abroad needing help.

Life will go on, but for the high number of individuals that have devoted their working lifes to Thomas Cook, finding a new job may involve loss of income, relocating or finding another trade. It will for sure change some family lives forever. Although Thomas Cook guests may have changes to their holiday and the associated stress with not knowing the plan, it is unlikely to have a long term impact.

Then there is the question, why did it happen?
Well basically because Thomas Cook couldn’t pay their bills. A main contributor to the lack of being profitable may have been down to having a business model that was not refreshed for the current trading environment.

Some sources dig a little further and claim that Thomas Cook failed to keep up with consumer behaviour and needs. Thomas Cook had many high street shops, which is claimed to be an expensive and old-school way to offer a product to the consumer.

Maybe there were more reasons as other competitors, that are trading with sound figures, still have high street shops. It’s also known that Thomas Cook was paying director bonuses and investor dividends for years. If we go back 5-10 years it would maybe have been a better idea to invest the money back to the company and refresh the brand? When a giant like Thomas Cook collapses, it is most likely not down to a simple reason or only one bad year.

Where consumer habits may be taking us
Today everyone can be their own travel agent and it places the traditional travel agents under immense pressure. In some ways this is great and with many low cost operators around, many people can afford to travel and get a holiday break abroad.

Event though prices are getting lower and lower, people are still expecting the same service that they have been used to.

The introduction of automatic machines at the airport to print your boarding pass, label your bagage and handle your bagage, may be an example of where technology has created savings but generated more stress for the consumer. The consumer may prefer or in some cases need a real person to help, but they are not prepared to pay for it.

Let’s take the cabin crew. Their workload is increasing, salary and rest times are continuously decreasing. The passenger is often unaware of these facts and bring on the “I am entitled to” attitude.

If you have booked your own holiday and your bagage doesn’t turn up, your flight is cancelled or you need to get a problem solved – well good luck. These kind of scenarious can often be extremely frustrating, time consuming and expensive to solve. As you are now your own agent, there is only you to solve it.

With the collapse of Thomas Cook, the travel industry lost a big player in the package holiday market. Let’s hope that there will still be consumer demand and sound bussiness models, to support the remaining players. It would be a sad loss, if we end up loosing the option to go with the “book it, relax and let us take care of you” ATOL protected holiday, that for years have been giving consumers a secure, relaxing and stress-free holiday around the world.

Happy landings

Spørg Piloten,



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