How will the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook UK affect customers in Belgium?

The bankruptcy of the UK operation of the world’s oldest tour operator Thomas Cook has created much uncertainty among staff and customers of its Belgian operation that is best known under the name Neckermann. Those that work for Thomas Cook in Belgium hope that company’s German operation with which Thomas Cook Belgium is closely linked with be able to continue trading. Belgian customers that have already booked will still be able to travel. However, no new booking will be accepted for the time being at least.  

 

Belgian customers that have already booked will still be able to travel. However, no new booking will be accepted for the time being at least. Thomas Cook Belgium’s spokeswoman Leen Segers told VRT news that the company’s Belgian wing is currently “fully operational”. She added that Thomas Cook Belgium has not gone bankrupt. Currently 10,000 are holidaying with Thomas Cook.

All the company’s travel agencies are open and the company can be contacted by telephone. However, no new bookings are being taken. The company says that this is a precautionary measure until there is more clarity about the fate of its Belgian operation. In contrast to Thomas Cook’s British operation, Thomas Cook Belgium doesn’t have its own airline any more, but works via Brussels Airlines.

Brussels airlines has said that Thomas Cook Belgium customers will be able to depart as planned. However, those that have booked their holiday via the Thomas Cook’s British operation will see their vacation plans thwarted. These include some Belgian customers that had booked holidays in North and Central America and were due to transfer to trans-Atlantic flights at Manchester Airport in the north of England.

Unclear how long uncertainty will last

It is still unclear how long this uncertain situation will persist. Thomas Cook Belgium is best-known under the Neckermann brand. The company that employs 600 people is profitable. Last year 700,000 people booked holidays with Thomas Cook Belgium.

Furthermore, in contrast to the UK operation Thomas Cook Belgium sells a lot of holidays online. Online bookings are good for around a third of the total. It is hoped that Thomas Cook’s “Continental Europe” operation will be able to continue trading. Thomas Cook Belgium’s fate is strongly linked to that of Thomas Cook Germany. However, there are also links with Thomas Cook UK that might make a relaunch of the Belgian operation more difficult.   

An extraordinary meeting of Thomas Cook Belgium’s Works Council got under way at 9am to inform staff of the current situation.