Thousands of Thomas Cook victims are still waiting for their money

Almost twelve months after the travel company ended, only 5000 German customers have their money back. Many of those affected seem no longer to rely on reimbursements.

Headquarters of the German branch of Thomas Cook in Oberursel near Frankfurt (archive image)

SYou have a statutory right to reimbursement – and still haven’t got your money back in full for almost a year. More than eleven months after the travel group Thomas Cook went bankrupt, 5,000 customers received compensation from the federal government for their partially or fully paid trips that no longer took place. This was announced by the Federal Ministry of Justice in response to a request from tourism politician Markus Tressel (The Greens). A total of 68,000 requests for repayment had been received.

This value indicates that the majority of those affected by the bankruptcy are currently no longer able to pursue their unfulfilled repayment claim. After the bankruptcy, estimates circulated that more than 200,000 bookings for package holidays with Thomas Cook and the Neckermann-Reisen and Öger-Tours brands had been paid for in full or in full. A booking usually includes the trip of more than one person, sometimes a whole family. The government itself replied to a small request from the FDP at the beginning of July that it was “assuming around 200,000 affected package travel bookings”, which could be processed via an online portal created for this purpose.

The German Thomas Cook subsidiary had filed for insolvency a few days after the collapse of the parent company on September 25, 2019, which led to the end of the package tour business. The Condor airline, which was also part of the Thomas Cook Group, has since been working on a new start on its own in a protective shield process.

German special route

The fact that the federal government came into the role of paying money to Thomas Cook customers after the tour operator’s bankruptcy has to do with a loophole in German travel law. Package travel customers are entitled to full repayments according to EU requirements. Germany had stipulated that the insurer involved had to be liable for a maximum of 110 million euros in damage.

The upper limit turned out to be too low to meet all demands. The Zurich insurance, which had also spoken of around 200,000 registered claims, therefore reimbursed proportionally. Customers got around 17.5 percent of their payments back. To avert an avalanche of litigation, the federal government stepped in for the rest.

Affected persons have to register with the insolvency administrator, the Zurich insurance and then on an online portal of the government. Since, according to the figures, only some of those affected have done this and the registration deadline for the online portal expires on November 15, Green politician Tressel is calling for an extension. “Compensation for Thomas Cook customers must now not fail due to bureaucratic hurdles,” he told the dpa news agency. In addition, more information is needed so that repayments can also be requested offline.