What British Travel Company Went Out of Business?

By Anna Duncan

The collapse of a major British travel company in 2020 had a major impact on the travel industry and left many people stranded abroad. Thomas Cook, one of the oldest and most popular travel companies in the UK, ceased trading on September 23rd 2020.

Thomas Cook had been in business since 1841, and at its peak employed over 21,000 people worldwide. It was responsible for carrying around 19 million passengers each year across 16 countries. It offered package holidays, flights and other services such as airport transfers and car hire.

The company’s troubles began in 2018 when it reported a £1.5 billion loss due to increased competition from online travel companies, rising fuel costs and political unrest in some of its destinations. This led to the company being placed into administration in 2019 after it failed to secure a financial rescue package.

The failure of Thomas Cook has left over 900,000 customers who were abroad at the time stranded without their return flights home. The government had to step in with a repatriation operation dubbed “Operation Matterhorn” which saw 150 planes chartered to get British citizens back home.

The collapse has also resulted in thousands of job losses, not only for employees who worked directly for Thomas Cook but also for those employed by its suppliers such as hotels and airlines. In addition, there are now fewer choices available for consumers looking for package holidays as Thomas Cook was one of the largest providers.

In the wake of this collapse, other travel companies are now having to rethink their strategies if they want to avoid a similar fate. Companies must take steps to manage their costs more efficiently while also providing customers with competitive prices and unique experiences.


Thomas Cook’s collapse has had a devastating impact on both customers and employees alike. The government had to step in with an expensive repatriation operation while thousands of people have lost their jobs. Other travel companies must now think carefully about how they can remain competitive while avoiding similar problems in future.