Condor and Thomas Cook Scandanavia continue to operate as scheduled.
Repatriation flights for Thomas Cook UK customers have been announced as follows:
Tuesday 1 October . The Manchester flight will operate as originally scheduled, using an XT (Titan) flight number and departing at 22:40. Gatwick passengers must use the Manchester flight and a coach transfer will be provided from Manchester to Gatwick.
Wednesday 2 October The Manchester flight will operate as originally scheduled, using an XT (Titan) flight number and departing at 21:50. The Cardiff flight passengers will travel on the 01:10 Bristol flight which leaves in the very early morning of Thursday 3 October, with coach transfer from Bristol to Cardiff. Glasgow passengers will travel on the Manchester flight, again with coach transfer at the UK end, and the same applies to East Midlands passengers.
Birmingham passengers will travel on Ryanair flight FR1721 to London Stansted, with a coach transfer back to Birmingham. This flight leaves at 12:05.
Thursday 3 October . The Bristol flight will operate in the original times, with an XT flight number.
Wednesday 2 October. The Manchester flight will operate as originally scheduled, using an XT flight number
We’re now getting towards the end of the operation. Kos flights for Thursday 3 October and Sunday 6 October, and Rhodes flights for Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 October will be announced shortly. After that, anyone booked on a Thomas Cook flight back to the UK and holding an ATOL certificate should be contacted directly by the CAA and given details of which existing other-operator flights they will be booked onto. Anyone with a Thomas Cook booking to the UK and no ATOL certificate must make their own arrangements for dates after 6 October, at their own expense (unless they are on a package holiday though another company such as Olympic Holidays, in which case the company will arrange and pay for alternative flights).
So here are the details of UK repatriation flights for Monday 30 September:
There were no Thomas Cook flights scheduled from Rhodes. From Kos there were flights to Manchester, Bristol, and Gatwick.
The Manchester flight will operate at the original time with flight number LL1261 (that’s Miami Air International, a US-based charter airline).
The Bristol flight will not operate and passengers will travel on the replacement Gatwick flight, with road transport from Gatwick to Bristol.
A replacement Gatwick flight will be operated by EasyJet at the original time, using flight number EZY9975.
Thomas Cook Scandanavia and Condor continue to operate.
UK passengers repatriation flights have been announced as follows:
Replacing flights from Kos on Sunday 29th: Birmingham, same departure time as original flight, XT (Titan) flight number.
Replacing flights from Rhodes today (28th) Gatwick, same time, XT flight number, and very early Sunday (29th) Manchester and Birmingham, both same times, both XT flight numbers.
After this point there’s an increasing likelihood of time changes and passengers for several airports being consolidated onto one UK-bound flight with coach transfers back to home airport. This is because all the package holiday passengers who booked one week breaks will have returned home, only those on 10/11/14 day holidays or longer will remain to be repatriated, so there will be fewer people travelling.
Condor and Thomas Cook Scandanavia continue to operate almost normally. The repatriation flights for people due to fly to the UK with Thomas Cook also continue.
From Rhodes the Gatwick flight on Saturday will be operated at the same time as originally planned, but with a ZT (Titan) flight number.
Flight details for Sunday departures from Kos and Rhodes are yet to be announced.
As there were no Thomas Cook UK flights scheduled out of Rhodes or Kos on Friday 27 September, there are no repatriation flights either.
Wednesday’s repatriation programme (along with early Thursday morning’s) seems to have gone off with no more delays than on a usual Wednesday (which isn’t saying all that much). At least two flights (East Midlands and Manchester from Rhodes – there may have been others) used Avion Express planes in full Thomas Cook colours, the same planes that have been doing contract flying for Thomas Cook all summer, and Rhodes to Cardiff used a Thomas Cook liveried SmartLynx plane.
Condor and Thomas Cook Scandanavia continue to operate their flights, there was some disruption involving a leasing company and three of TC Scandanavia’s planes, but this has been resolved.
Repatriation flights for UK customers are also continuing, with the biggest lift out of Rhodes so far happening today.
For tomorrow, Kos has three flights scheduled, just as was always the case, varying between the same time and nearly two hours later than originally scheduled. Airlines vary, but the number part of the flight number remains the same as for Thomas Cook. Gatwick is being operated by Eastern Airlines (2D), Birmingham and Manchester by Titan Airways (XT). The codes in brackets are the prefix for the flight number. Titan acts as a coordinating agency so the actual plane may belong to one of a number of airlines, as well as Titan itself, it could even be one of Thomas Cook’s former subcontractors with a plane in Thomas Cook colours and a crew in Thomas Cook uniform.
There only ever was one Thursday Thomas Cook UK flight from Rhodes, at 01:10 to Bristol. A replacement will be operated at the same time using a Titan Airways (XT) flight number.
As if Aigle Azur, XL Airways France, Thomas Cook Airlines (UK) weren’t enough casualties for one month, last night Air Adria, the national airline of Slovenia, closed down when their government refused to make a further loan to keep them in business. Adria have been seen in Rhodes in the past but had no scheduled flights there this year.
Well, quite a bit of news some distinctly positive.
Condor, the German division of Thomas Cook Group, is continuing to fly for the near future at least
The Scandanavian division has restarted flight operations, and the package holiday companies within the division are taking bookings again. These never traded under the Thomas Cook name, using Spies, Tjaereborg and so on, the names of the businesses Cooks took over. Only the airline was Thomas Cook branded. This division was always believed to be profitable.
In the UK market, the repatriation flights continue. There will be replacement flights, at the same times originally planned, for all the Thomas Cook departures from Rhodes tomorrow, going directly to the airports originally scheduled. All the flights are nominally operated by Titan Airways, using XT flight numbers, except that to Birmingham, which will be operated by EuroAtlantic. Some of the Titan flights will actually be operated by other airlines. Thomas Cook routinely leased in planes and pilots from other airlines to cover the summer peak, especially Avion Express and SmartLynx. The planes were often painted in Thomas Cook livery. With some smart footwork, Titan (with official blessing) is now leasing in the same planes and pilots. Thomas Cook provided most or all of the cabin crew. Titan have hired these same cabin crew members on very short term contracts. So some of the repatriation flights will be on planes painted in Thomas Cook colours, crewed by staff in Thomas Cook uniforms, and these may be the same planes and staff who would have been there if nothing had gone wrong. At least it gets people home and provides some little employment and certainty of getting paid for the crews.
The UK division of Thomas Cook cased trading last night, and its in-house airline ceases operations as soon as all planes currently flying return home.
How does this affect people currently on Symi and expecting a Thomas Cook Airlines flight back to the UK?
If you booked a Thomas Cook package to Symi (and there were some), you will be repatriated to the UK by flights organised by the Civil Aviation Authority. These may not be to the original airport, and ground transport will be laid on to complete your journey.
Your accommodation will continue to be paid for, and transfers will continue to be provided. If you had a flight with another airline as part of a Thomas Cook package (often with Easyjet) you can continue to use the flight, but keep in close touch about transfers.
It appears that the precedent set when Monarch collapsed is being adhered to, and flight-only passengers will also be eligible to use the repatriation flights – a small number of these will have ATOL certificates.
Keep in very close touch with reps, if you are a package customer, or watch the CAA’s special website:
For today, two repatriation flights leave Kos taking people who are booked on the three Thomas Cook flights originally scheduled – one to Gatwick (operated by HiFly), and one to Manchester (operated by EuroAtlantic), at the original times, but passengers to Bristol should take the Manchester flight and will transfer from there to Bristol by coach.
There are no flights from Rhodes due today, tomorrow there is a Gatwick (operated by Titan Airways) and a Manchester (operated by Eastern Airlines).
Kos flights for Wednesday are a Manchester, operated by Titan. Wednesday flights from Rhodes are still being arranged.
Who are these airlines – I’ve never heard of them? So far, they are all specialist “wet-lease” airlines, their business is supplying aircraft and crews to other airlines in need of temporary additional planes. Titan is British, Eastern is American, HiFly and EuroAtlantic are Portuguese. You may find that aircraft types are unfamiliar, certainly prebooked seats won’t be honoured, and catering may be minimal.
What about me – I’m booked with Thomas Cook Scandanavia, or Condor? These Thomas Cook Group airlines must be affected, but I don’t have details of what has been arranged to help their passengers yet. Watch this space. UPDATE – Thomas Cook Scandanavia has also stopped operations. Condor however is still flying today (German bankruptcy laws are different to others in Europe)
I was booked with Thomas Cook UK, but haven’t travelled yet. UK customers with ATOL certificates will get their flight or holiday costs (only items covered by the certificate) refunded by ATOL. This is an immense job, it may take several weeks. If you don’t have an ATOL certificate but paid by credit card, contact the credit card company for a refund. If you paid by debit card, contact your bank – they may be willing to help. Things like prepaid hotel accommodation, car hire, car parking etc will not be refunded by anyone unless you have an ATOL certificate – look to your travel insurance.
As I’ve said for several years, Autumn is the period for airlines to go bankrupt in Europe. They’ve been clocking up lots of flight time all summer, with their fuel, ground handling, and other costs on credit. Now the cashflow from all those passengers is shrinking and the bills have to be paid at the same time. Obviously the business plan is to accumulate enough cash during the busy time to pay the bills when things get slack. But every year, some misjudge things.
So far in the bankruptcy season this year, it is French airlines that are suffering:
Aigle Azur and XL Airways have both gone under in the last week or so. Now before someone says “but XL Airways went bust years ago”, yes, they did, but that was XL Airways UK, the French company was solvent and survived, until this year. Neither had any scheduled flights to Rhodes or Kos this year, so the direct impact is minimal.
But hanging over the industry is the threat to Thomas Cook, directly affecting flights from multiple countries, very definitely including Greece, and Rhodes/Kos specifically. The mainstream media appear to have finally noticed what is happening, and things are still getting worse. The UK Civil Aviation Authority has ramped up its contingency plans and emergency takeoff/landing slots have been authorised to move a fleet of chartered planes into London Gatwick on 1 October if necessary for repatriation efforts. These planes have been sourced from as far away as the USA, because there is a worldwide passenger plane shortage thanks to the Boeing 737MAX grounding.
On the plus side, Norwegian appear to have staggered away from their crisis by persuading enough of their bond holders to accept a deferment of the date their bonds fall due for repayment. This should at least see them through winter.
More to follow, unfortunately.