Thomas Cook has relaunched as an online-only travel business after being bought by international leisure company Fosun Tourism Group (1992.HK).
Fosun Tourism Group — one of the world’s largest leisure companies which also owns Club Med – acquired the brand and online assets of Thomas Cook in November last year and have now “reinvented one of the most recognisable names in British travel.”
Thomas Cook collapsed into administration in September 2019, leaving 150,000 holidaymakers stranded and putting 22,000 jobs from around the world at risk, including 9,000 in the UK. The collapse came primarily because of a mounting £1.7bn ($2.1bn) debt pile and a weak bookings market.
The new Thomas Cook will operate as a purely online business, offering customers hotels and flight routes so they can design their own holidays “according to their budget, needs and specifications.” The site will also offer transfers, car hire, airport parking, currency and travel insurance.
The company said it is ‘Covid-ready’ and will begin by selling holidays to destinations on the UK government’s safe travel corridor list. It will also be licensed by the CAA and Atol-protected.
Thomas Cook said it will continue to invest in its digital offering to adapt to consumers’ changing holiday needs and lifestyles, including adding new flight partners and other travel options, as well as more hotels and other types of accommodation.
Available destinations currently include Italy, Greece and Turkey, “in line with the current travel corridors.” Further destinations will be added when government restrictions are lifted, according to the company.
Alan French, Thomas Cook’s UK CEO, said: “We know Brits are keen to travel but feel nervous about safety and any changes to government rules on quarantine. We are only selling destinations on the travel corridor list and all the hotels are flexible. We also won’t charge customers a fee to change their holidays if government rules change.
“We will use a trust model to ring-fence customers’ payments, meaning Thomas Cook only receives customers’ money once they’ve returned from holiday.”
The travel industry has been battered by coronavirus lockdowns and global groundings, and many companies are fighting to survive as it is still unclear when things will fully return to normal again.
French said: “We are launching now clearly aware of the short-term challenges posed by the pandemic. We and our Fosun backers are taking the long view and we want to offer choice, customisation, and 24/7 on-holiday customer care to families who wish to travel now and in the future.”
Jim Qian, chairman and CEO of Fosun Tourism Group, said: “Thomas Cook has a proud heritage and after acquiring the brand last year we wanted to quickly return it to its home in the UK.
“Supporting the growth of the brand in China and its relaunch in the UK is a big step in our plan to turn Thomas Cook into a global success story and a key milestone in the development of the Fosun Tourism Group’s strategy.”
Hays Travel bought all of the failed travel operator’s shops in the UK after the collapse of Thomas Cook, saving up to 2,500 jobs. Hays axed almost 900 jobs in August as a result of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.