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All your Thomas Cook questions answered

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Written by: Emma Lunn
24/09/2019
We look at the situation for employees, members of the pension scheme, shareholders and people with Thomas Cook prepaid cards and gift cards.

Operation Matterhorn, the repatriation mission to fly home thousands of stranded Thomas Cook passengers, is entering its second day following the travel giant’s collapse yesterday.

All future Thomas Cook flight and holiday bookings are now cancelled; with holidaymakers who bought ATOL-protected trips entitled to a full refund.

But it’s not just holidaymakers affected by Thomas Cook going to the wall – there are other groups of people impacted too.

Thomas Cook employees

Thomas Cook had about 21,000 staff, working in the company’s retail shops, head office, airports and holiday resorts. Almost all of these will be facing redundancy, although some employees will be retained to assist the special managers from KPMG, one of the administrators, in winding up the shops’ operations.

If you’ve been made redundant and your employer is insolvent, you can apply to the Insolvency Service for the money you’re owed such as your salary and holiday pay.

The government website has dedicated advice for Thomas Cook employees seeking to claim money they’re owed and information about where to seek support.

About 1,000 staff in Thomas Cook’s head office in Peterborough have lost their jobs. Local businesses have stepped in to support them by offering free football match tickets, CV checks and job interview advice, pre-interview haircuts, and taxi rides to interviews.

Pension scheme members

Thomas Cook had both a defined contribution pension scheme (where your final pension is based on how much you’ve paid into your pension pot) and defined benefit pension schemes (where your pension is based on your final salary).

Now it’s ceased trading, Thomas Cook won’t be making any further contributions into these pension schemes. However, money already saved in these schemes is safe. Cash in a defined contribution scheme is held by a third-party provider, while defined benefit pension scheme members’ money is protected by the Pension Protection Fund.

Shareholders

Thomas Cook Group plc’s listing with the London Stock Exchange has been suspended. This means Thomas Cook shares cannot be traded on the exchange and are effectively worthless.

Although this is the worst news possible for Thomas Cook shareholders, it’s better news for investors with a stake in rival travel companies.

Helal Miah, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, said: “Being one of the largest travel groups, its disappearance will mean a large player’s future customer base will now move over to its rivals. As a result TUI shares are up nearly 10 per cent, On the Beach up 1.5 per cent, EasyJet up 6 per cent, Ryanair up 3 per cent and IAG up 1.6 per cent.”

Gift card holders

Thomas Cook sold travel gift cards and vouchers which could be used to book holidays with the firm.

Unfortunately, Thomas Cook gift cards are now worthless – this is almost always the case for gift cards when a business goes bust.

The only option for Thomas Cook gift card holders is to add their name and details to the list of creditors – but it’s very unlikely they will get their money back.

However, if you’ve used gift cards to book a holiday that has ATOL-protection, you will get a cash refund under the ATOL scheme.

Creditors

There may be companies or sole traders who have supplied goods or services to Thomas Cook and not been paid.

These firms will need to register as a creditor. To do this you will need to complete a “proof of debt” form which you should then email to the “special managers” – either KPMG or AlixPartners, depending on which Thomas Cook subsidiary owes you the money.

Prepaid card holders

There’s better news for people with a Lyk prepaid card or Thomas Cook Cash Passport. These cards allowed you to pre-load money on to a card to spend in 10 different currencies.

These cards are provided by Wirecard Card Solutions Limited with the funds on the cards protected and held separately from the company’s money. So you should be able to continue to use the cards as normal.

People with outstanding flight delay claims

The news isn’t good if you are waiting for compensation for a previous flight delay with Thomas Cook.

Those people owed money are now creditors of Thomas Cook – but are likely to be at the back of a long line and are unlikely to see much, if any, of their money.

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