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Thomas Cook ‘set to relaunch online this month’ – a year after the tour operator went bust

THOMAS Cook may relaunch as an online travel agent this month, a year after the UK’s oldest tour operator went bust.

Chinese shareholder Fosun, who retained a large number of shares in Thomas Cook, is thought to be behind the return of the former travel company.

According to Sky News, the conglomerate still needs to secure regulatory approvals as well as look into quarantine restrictions on British tourists.

An official statement is expected in the next few days, although an insider said the timing of the relaunch is uncertain.

Fosun bought the Thomas Cook name for £11m last year and can now use it and its website to market holidays.

Earlier this year, Fosun made the former finance executive Raj Sharma the chief financial officer, according to The Times, along with rehiring Alan French, who was the group strategy and technology director and Phil Gardner, who was head of sales, e-commerce and marketing.

Claims that Thomas Cook would become an online-only travel company were first revealed in November 2019, with Fosun also owning Thomas Cook China as well as the Thomas Cook own-brand hotels, Casa Cook and Cook Club.

Thomas Cook collapsed on September 23 last year, stranding 150,000 British holidaymakers abroad.

The collapse of the 178-year-old British travel firm, the UK’s oldest holiday company, led to the largest repatriation in peacetime history by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), costing the taxpayer £150m.

Thomas Cook initially agreed a £900million rescue deal with Fosun in August last year – but lenders then demanded another £200million.

Thomas Cook struggled with massive debts which saw its value plummet from £2.2bn to £180m in one year.

Travel company Hays Travel reopened a number of Thomas Cook stores last year after buying 555 of the properties – although have since had to lay off 20 per cent of staff due to the pandemic.

The timing of the relaunch may seem strange to British tourists, with the travel industry struggling due to the pandemic.

Tour operator TUI has warned of 8,000 job losses globally while Virgin Atlantic announced plans to cut 1,150 jobs on Friday. 

British Airways’ caterer Do&Co is axing 2,134 staff, leaving just 300 workers to make in-flight meals, while Heathrow Airport is asking 2,500 workers to accept hefty pay cuts or half may lose their jobs.

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