UK aviation watchdog prepares for possible Thomas Cook collapse

Thomas Cook is currently trying to secure a more than £1 billion rescue package. (Reuters pic)

LONDON: The UK aviation regulator is preparing for a possible collapse of tour operator Thomas Cook Plc ahead of a showdown with bondholders, the Times of London reported, without saying where it got the information.

The Civil Aviation Authority is making contingency plans for the possibility of having to repatriate “hundreds of thousands” of passengers stranded abroad, the newspaper said.

The regulator’s preparations come ahead of an Oct 1 deadline for renewal of Thomas Cook’s air travel organiser’s license.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority was unavailable for comment outside of normal working hours. Thomas Cook declined to comment on a possible delay of the meeting.

Thomas Cook is currently trying to secure a more than £1 billion (US$1.3 billion) rescue package with lenders and bondholders including Fosun International Ltd.

The travel agent may appeal to the courts to push back a bondholder meeting set for Wednesday in order to gain more time to finalise the restructuring agreement, the Financial Times reported without saying where it got the information.

Thomas Cook’s bonds fell to record lows on Friday and shares have fallen 84% this year as it seeks a rescue amid wilting profits, falling demand and the impact of Brexit.

Last week, a group of hedge funds holding credit insurance on the company was said to challenge the plan in order to ensure they get a payout.

Thomas Cook has lined up AlixPartners as an adviser if rescue talks with Fosun and other lenders fall apart.