Since Thomas Cook ceased trading on 23 September 2019, the UK Civil Aviation Authority has been undertaking the UK travel industry’s largest ever refunds programme. We understand that this is a concerning time for Thomas Cook customers who are awaiting refunds, and we are working tirelessly to process payments as quickly as possible.
Following a review of the Thomas Cook booking data, we anticipate that the refunds programme will cover around 300,000 cancelled holiday bookings in total. We have currently received approximately 215,000 valid claims. This is in addition to the direct debit customers who we have already refunded in full where possible.
The payments for these cancelled holidays will be refunded through the ATOL financial protection scheme to those that submitted a claim through our online system, which launched on 7 October 2019.
This has been a challenging operation, due to the potential threat of fraudulent claims and the poor quality and complexity of the data we received from multiple booking systems used across the Thomas Cook Group.
On the opening day of the refund programme, we received 67,000 claims that have been confirmed as valid. We anticipate that by this weekend, around two-thirds of these claims will be paid in full, bringing the total value of refunds made to £160 million, including payments made to an additional 90,000 direct debit customers in October. In order to process the remaining claims, we need additional information, and consumers have been contacted in recent days and weeks requesting the further details needed to finalise their ATOL refund.
While we would like to process refunds as soon as possible, we are unable to make some payments without verifying all aspects of a submitted claim, and therefore the 60-day claims period is paused while we await the required information. This process is in place to make sure the right payments are being made to the right people. We do not expect the requests for further details to cause significant delays to payment once we have received the requested data.
We also encourage consumers that applied for refunds on 7 October 2019 to check their junk and spam email folders if they have not received contact from us by this weekend.
Richard Moriarty, Chief Executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said:
“We thank consumers for their ongoing patience as we continue to do all that we can to work through the UK travel industry’s largest ever refunds programme. I appreciate that this is a concerning time for Thomas Cook customers who are waiting for their refunds, particularly at this time of the year.
“We will have already paid out more than £160 million by this weekend and will continue to pay claims as soon as possible. Where we have had to request further information, we encourage those consumers to respond at the earliest opportunity so that we can finalise these payments. I would like to reassure consumers that all valid ATOL protected payments will be refunded.”