UK Operators in the Post-Thomas Cook Era: In its latest report on the matter, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had settled more than 95 percent of all the claims it had received to date following the Sept. 23, 2019 collapse of Thomas Cook, once the oldest tour operator in the UK. This equates to 320,000 claims settled at a value of over £310 million ($404 million) in ATOL* (Air Travel Organizers License) payments. This is the largest amount ever paid out by the program since its creation in 1973.
In addition to the 320,000 claims already settled, there were approximately 10,000 claims remaining and these were being processed as a matter of urgency. In most cases, these claims had taken longer to process because the details entered online did not exactly match Thomas Cook’s booking records, in some cases due to Thomas Cook’s incomplete or inaccurate data, making it more difficult for the claims team to identify bookings as quickly as CAA would like.
One factor that apparently threw a wrench into the mix was that the failure of Thomas Cook came just before the end of the period in which tour operators seek (and, for the most part, receive) renewal of their ATOL, along with the number of passengers it anticipates carrying in a rolling 12-month period. CAA usually stops accepting renewal requests at the beginning of April and at the beginning of October. But with the Cook collapse coming just a week before the close of renewal requests, the deadline was moved back to late October.
What INBOUND has done below is compare the Top 25 operators based on the number of passengers they are authorized to carry. One finds that, among the top ten operators, some larger players (British Airways, easyJet, Jet2holidays, Travel Bravo and Travel Republic) increased their allotment from last April, while TUI and Expedia decreased theirs.
As of a couple of weeks ago, the Civil Aviation Authority
said 1,182 of the 1,283 ATOLs that expired on September 30 had been granted. Of
the remaining 101, 51 did not reapply and 50 had not yet been renewed.
In the tables below, you will see how the rank of tour operators has changed—the largest change, of course, being the disappearance from the list of Thomas Cook.
*A Note: ATOL was first introduced in 1973, as the popularity of overseas holidays grew, and after number of high-profile travel business failures left people stranded overseas while vacationing. The UK Government realized that consumers required protection when their travel providers fell into difficulties. ATOL currently protects around 20 million holidaymakers and travelers each year. ATOL is run by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). It is able to provide assistance by requiring ATOL holders to pay a fee of £2.50 ($3.25) for each traveler, which is held in a fund managed by the Air Travel Trust.