Thomas Cook insolvent
The Thomas Cook concern comprises various companies in various countries. Not all of them are currently insolvent. Therefore, please check on your booking confirmation who your contractual partner is ("tour operator" or "service provider"). If you booked at a travel agency, you can ask there for assistance and information.
Update, 08.10.2019: Information about Thomas Cook Germany (concerns Thomas Cook GmbH, Thomas Cook Touristik GmbH, Bucher Reisen & Öger Tours GmbH):
The insolvency proceedings against Thomas Cook Germany have not yet been officially opened. Consumers who only booked flights or hotels (not package tours) are therefore not yet able to file their claims.
Package tour customers of the German tour operators, on the other hand, are advised to register their claims as soon as possible. The link to the web form of the responsible Karea AG: http://www.kaera-ag.de/geschaeftsfelder/abwicklungsstelle/insolvenzthomascook/index.htm
The official insolvency proceedings regarding the Thomas Cook Austria AG were openend at the commercial court Vienna (HG Vienna). The deadline for claim registrations is 2 December 2019.
If you didn't book a package travel, but only a flight or hotel, this is unfortunately not secured. Affected consumers can file their claim for refunds at the insolvency proceedings at the HG Vienna. However, those consumers will get a refund according to a quota, i.e. a certain percentage of the claim, at most. Since the debts of Thomas Cook Austria AG are likely to be very high, even this is uncertain. Furthermore, experience has shown that such procedures take a very long time. The form for lodging your claims is provided at this link of the HG Vienna: https://portal.justiz.gv.at/at.gv.justiz.formulare/Justiz/Insolvenz.aspx
For the German Thomas Cook tour operators, the lawyers of the legal firm Hermann Wienberg Wilhelm (HWW) were commissioned as temporary insolvency administrators. This applies to the following companies: Thomas Cook GmbH, Thomas Cook Touristik GmbH and Bucher & Öger Tours GmbH. More information is provided on the website of the law firm: https://www.hww.eu/thomas-cook/
Update, 25.09.2019: Today, the German Thomas Cook GmbH filed for insolvency. For now, this affects the tour operators Thomas Cook GmbH, Thomas Cook Touristik Gmbh and Bucher Reisen & Öger Tours GmbH. It is uncertain whether others might follow.
This marks the start of an important period of eight weeks during which affected consumers can file their claims, so by 17 November 2019 at the latest. The service provider Kaera AG is in charge of the administration, information for consumers are to be found on the website. It states: "Customers are asked to file their claims via the webform only. If no internet connection is available: +49 (0)6172 – 99 76 11 23". The link to the webform: http://www.kaera-ag.de/geschaeftsfelder/abwicklungsstelle/insolvenzthomascook/index.htm
According to media reports, the Austrian Thomas Cook Austria AG will file for insolvency today as well. The administrator has been known for days, where their package travel customers have to file their claims until 17 November: AWP P&C S.A. / Phone: + 43 1 525 03 6853 / e-mail: email@example.com / www.allianz-assistance.at/thomas-cook-neckermann-insolvenz
But attention: This administrator is only competent for customers who booked a package travel. Consumers who booked a flight or hotel only, have to file their claims with the respective administrator for the insolvency proceedings, who has not yet been appointed.
We will give an update as soon as new information is available.
Update, 24.09.2019, 11:27 a.m.: On the website of Thomas Cook Austria AG, the contact details of the administrator have been changed: Phone: +43 1 525 03 6853; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Furthermore, new information for customers of the Austrian tour operator are now available on the website of the administrator, Allianz Partners (AWP): www.allianz-assistance.at
On the website of Thomas Cook Germany, the following is stated: "Customers with a departure date on 23 or 24 September can't go on their trip as they will not be accepted by either the airline nor the hotel." According to media reports, the insurance company Zürich Versicherung situated in Frankfurt would be competent for customers of the German Thomas Cook GmbH in case of insolvency.
All in all, the following can be stated at the moment: It remains to be seen whether Thomas Cook Austria or Germany will manage to avert insolvency. We advice consumers to follow the current media coverage and to frequently visit the websites of the tour operator that is stated on their booking confirmation - which may be Thomas Cook, but could also be e.g. Neckermann Reisen in Austria or Bucher Reisen in Germany, to name only two examples.
Important for affected consumers: Single flight or hotel bookings are not secured in case of insolvency. The cover only applies to package tours, i.e. holiday packages that combine several tourist services. For example, if you booked a flight + a hotel or a flight + a rental car at once for one total price, this constitutes a package travel. Furthermore, so called linked travel arrangements are also secured (read more in our article).
- If the package tour is not carried out, you will be refunded what you have paid so far. To do this, you must contact the travel agent (see below for contact details).
- If you are currently at your destination, all paid services should be provided without further costs, e.g. your return flight.
- If, however, you are forced to pay again for a service you have already paid for, for example because the hotel did not receive any money from Thomas Cook, the following is important: Pay under reserve and keep the receipts well! These costs should be refunded to you by the administrator (contact details see below).
- If you are at your holiday destination and cannot reach anyone to find out if your return flight is taking place, we advise you to drive to the airport anyhow, to be on the safe side.
The British tour operator Thomas Cook is insolvent and ceased all business operations. As Thomas Cook has a branch in Austria as well, many Austrian consumers are asking how this could affect their travel plans.
Currently, the Thomas Cook Gmbh in Germany and the Thomas Cook Austria AG in Austria are not insolvent. However, both stopped the sale of tours and can't guarantee the execution of already booked journeys.
Information by Thomas Cook Austria and Germany
On the website of Neckermann Reisen, the following information is provided regarding Thomas Cook Austria:
"...the Thomas Cook Austria AG has stopped all sales of trips and cannot guarantee the execution of booked trips."
Customers are asked to contact the administrator of the insolvency:
- AWP P&C S.A., Branch for Austria
Phone: + 43 1 525 03 6853
Thomas Cook Germany and other linked German tour operators like Bucher Reisen, stated that that the company had switched to emergency management and could not guarantee the execution of travels on 23 and 24 September.
Furthermore, last option are currently being evaluated: "If those fail, we are forced to file for insolvency for the Thomas Cook GmbH, Thomas Cook Touristik GmbH and Bucher Reisen & Öger Tours GmbH and possibly further companies."
Hence, the following tour operators would not be affected: Dertouristik Gruppe (Dertour/Meiers/ITS/JAHN), FTI-Gruppe (5vor Flug/BigXTRA/FTI), Schauinsland Reisen, TUI-Gruppe, LMX Reisen, VTOURS, AMEROPA, Alltours (inkl Byebye), ETI Reisen, LTUR, TROPO, OLIMAR, HLX
Airline Condor: The airline belongs to the British Thomas Cook, but is not affected by the insolvency and didn't stop operations. However, the Condor won't transport passengers who booked through Thomas Cook, Neckermann, Oeger Tours, Air Marin and Bucher Reisen, on 23 and 24 September, according to the website. The reason is that those tour operators can't guarantee the execution of the travels. Return flights will be carried out as planned.
Insolvency protection for package tours
According to the package travel law, you are covered in the event of insolvency of the tour operator. If the booked trip cannot be carried out, you will get your money back. If you are already at your holiday destination, you must be transported back home free of charge if this was part of the package tour (e.g. flight).
Tips for affected consumers
Many consumers call us because they booked a trip and a (partial) amount still has to be paid. We advise them to wait as long as possible and to request a written confirmation that their trip will be carried out as planned. However, the possible insolvency does not entitle them to withdraw from their journey free of charge. If they don't go on the journey, although it is carried out, the tour operator can charge cancellation fees.
According to Austrian law, the tour operator can't demand payment of more than 20 percent of the total price more than 20 days before the departure. We recommend to deny to pay any more than that. In Germany, the legal situation is different. If you booked at a German tour operator, e.g. Thomas Cook Germany, Öger Tours or Bucher Reisen, then try to argue nevertheless with the protective regulations of the Austrian law (§4 Abs. 4 PRV).
Document any payment and keep the invoices. This especially applies to additional payments that you have to make during your stay at your destination. All extra costs should be refunded to you.
Save media reports and information provided on the website of your tour operator.
If the Austrian or German tour operator becomes insolvent, an important period starts with the date of application for insolvency: Consumers have to file their claims within eight weeks! For the Thomas Cook Austria AG, the above mentioned administrator is competent. Experience has shown that insolvency proceedings can take a long time.
We will update this article with any new information. Please be aware that the European Consumer Centre (ECC) is only competent for cross-border cases where the consumer booked a journey at Thomas Cook Germany or UK. If you are a resident in Austria and booked at Thomas Cook Austria AG, you can turn to the Verein für Konsumenteninformation (VKI) for assistance.