British tour operator Thomas Cook announced on Monday that it was going bankrupt after failing over the weekend to raise funds for its survival.

A major repatriation

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the government are on the warpath to organize a massive repatriation of some 600,000 tourists worldwide, including 150,000 for Great Britain, twice as many as in the bankruptcy of the United States. British airline Monarch two years ago.

They activated an emergency plan called Operation Matterhorn, named after a US bombing campaign during the Second World War. "Our emergency plan has resulted in the acquisition of aircraft from around the world - some from Malaysia - and we have sent hundreds of people to call centers and airports," said Transportation Minister Grant Shapps .

The oldest independent tour operator in the world

Born in 1841, the world's oldest independent tour operator has 22,000 employees, including 9,000 in the United Kingdom. Thomas Cook manages hotels and resorts, air routes and cruises. It operates in 16 countries and deals with 19 million customers a year.

In 2007, Thomas Cook merged with MyTravel to become one of Europe's largest tour operators, operating in Germany, Scandinavia, Russia and elsewhere.

The heavily indebted tour operator has seen its horizon darken in recent years because of fierce competition from cheap online sites and the geopolitical situation.

An abysmal debt

Thomas Cook had announced an abounding loss of 1.5 billion pounds for the first half, for a turnover of some 10 billion.

His fate was a matter of days: creditors asked him last week to find 200 million pounds (227 million euros) of additional funding for an already accepted rescue plan of 900 million pounds per year. Chinese Fosun, the largest shareholder, is validated. Marathon discussions were held all weekend, but to no avail.

Fosun Tourism Group said it was disappointed by the failure of an agreement between Thomas Cook, its banks and creditors, saying it had been favorable all along. The recapitalization plan was "no longer applicable given the judicial liquidation" of Thomas Cook, said a statement from the Chinese group.

For its part, the British Aviation Authority (CAA) has indicated that the Thomas Cook Group, "tour operator and aviation company at the same time, ceased operations with immediate effect. All Thomas Cook bookings, flights and stays, are now canceled.

London refused to bail out this flagship of the industry. Thomas Cook did not represent a strong strategic interest.

"It's a lot of taxpayers' money and it's a moral hazard," Premier Boris Johnson told reporters on his plane to New York. In one way or another, the state must stop intervening to save bankrupt tour operators....»

Jaimie Potts for DayNewsWorld