On Monday September 23, 2019 we woke to the devastating news that Thomas Cook, the worlds oldest travel company had gone in to liquidation.
Thomas Cook had been around for 178 years and its failure put 22,000 jobs at risk globally, including 9,000 in the UK. It also triggered the biggest ever peacetime repatriation, aimed at bringing more than 150,000 British holidaymakers home.
As an airline, the Thomas Cook we know today can trace its history back to 1996 when the Thomas Cook Group purchased rival travel company Sunworld and acquired their first airline Airworld (RL).
Sunworld went on to acquire Flying Colours Leisure Group and Airworld was merged under the Flying Colours brand at the end of the 1998 summer season.
Flying Colours (MT) then merged with Caledonian Airways (KG) on September 1, 1999 and JMC Air (MT) was created a few months later, named after Thomas Cook’s sons initials ‘John Mason Cook’.
On March 31, 2003, JMC Air was rebranded as Thomas Cook Airlines (MT), with management capitalising on the long and trusted history of the Thomas Cook name in the holiday industry.
The final piece in the puzzle was the merger of MyTravel Airways (VZ) with Thomas Cook on March 30, 2008. The Thomas Cook name and callsign ‘Kestrel’ was maintained and the airline we know today was born.
But recent years have not been easy for the company and numerous turnaround plans were introduced over the years in an attempt to return to profitability.
On October 1, 2013 Thomas Cook unveiled its ‘Sunny Heart’ rebranding and in December that year, the airline welcomed the first of its new A321s, resplendent in its new livery and appropriately named ‘Sunny Heart’.
The airline also introduced a brand new Cabin Crew uniform in March 2017 for all employees of the Thomas Cook Group of airlines including Thomas Cook UK, Condor in Germany and Thomas Cook Scandinavia and Belgium, created by Bacher Work Wear.
The new uniform meant that cabin crew from Belfast to Brussels, Billund to Berlin looked uniformly identical and stylish across the group of airlines. The uniform also made it on to our ‘Style In The Aisles Top Ten Uniforms 2017’.
Speaking about the new outfit, the airlines crew commented “I love my uniform, since it’s party of my profession and follows a long tradition of aviation apparel. The uniform is very classy through the royal blue, in combination with the golden stripes and represents me in a very elegant way. Having been unshaped and bulky for decades, nowadays my uniform has a feminine cut, especially the single breasted suits. Wearing it gives me a good feeling and makes me proud every single day”.
To improve the customer experience onboard, the airline went on to invest £100 million in refurbishing and upgrading its cabin interiors and in Summer 2015 launched its brand new premium product across its fleet of Airbus A330 aircraft.
The carrier also expanded its long-haul offering, mainly from its hub in Manchester with limited flights also operating from Glasgow, London Gatwick and Stansted, to numerous destinations across North America and for a short time to Cape Town in South Africa.
For many years the airline has also been a proud supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. On August 20, 2019 the airline operated its first ever ‘Fly with Pride’ flight to San Francisco from Manchester Airport with an all-LGBTQ+ crew.
The ‘Fly with Pride’ Airbus A330 aircraft was emblazoned with the Pride heart, one of five Thomas Cook Airlines aircraft specially painted, each representing a decade since the Stonewall riots and one for each of the five years that the airline has supported the Manchester Pride Festival. Crew also sported special uniform additions throughout the season.
In August 2019, Thomas Cook had secured a £900m rescue deal led by its largest shareholder Chinese firm Fosun, but demands from its banks to raise a further £200m in contingency funding put the deal in doubt.
The holiday company held desperate last minute talks with lenders in an attempt to secure the additional funding and salvage the deal, but to no avail.
Many of the staff who worked for Thomas Cook had been there for many, many years and the out pouring of grief has been immense. Airlines have rallied round to support those who are out of a job with ‘go fund me pages’, offers of jobs and general support across social media. It really has shown how we are just one big aviation family.
Thomas Cook’s Sunny Heart 💛 may have gone from the skies, but it will never go from the Hearts and minds of the thousands of staff and loyal customers that have flown with the airline for many years.
Check out our Thomas Cook tribute gallery below.
Thanks to everyone who sent across their pictures to include in this tribute!
© confessionsofatrolleydolly.com by Dan Air.