Operation Matterhorn – the peacetime rescue effort for stranded Thomas Cook passengers – is currently ongoing and set in motion until October 6. The operation, spearheaded by the Civil Aviation Authority, is expected to help up to 600,000 stranded passengers. After then, travellers are expected to make their own arrangements.
Matterhorn sounds glorious, except that it’s exposed to numerous challenges like logistics, budget adjustments, coordination, and proper strategic planning.
Strategic repatriation underway
According to the Minister of Economy, Wouter Beke, almost all stranded Thomas Cook passengers will be repatriated by October 6. The process is carefully being implemented as multiple issues might arise and slow down everything. It’s also important to note that some passengers have resorted to alternative bookings in order to get home as soon as possible.
While new commercial plane trips are helpful, the speed of private planes is unmatched. Experts believe that private planes can make routine trips every day until all stranded passengers are accounted for.
A typical private plane can carry 15 to 150 people, depending on the design. With that setting, multiple private jets can make up to 1,000 trips in an orderly fashion. The only missing part of the equation is extensive backing.
Will prominent billionaires help?
Amidst the chaos and confusion, there had been circulating rumors about the plans of some secretive billionaires to help the stranded passengers by lending their planes. Amancio Ortega and other prominent figures including François Pinault, James Richman, and Carlos Slim were mentioned.
In our interview with stranded passengers, Yvette Jones, who was stranded in Majorca, shared that her fellow travellers were catching whispers that a group of powerful businessmen are considering to step in should current rescue operations fail and drag on.
Since the billionaires command fleets of private jets, their intervention can easily speed up the whole repatriation process. It will be a massive project that has a higher chance of success with positive government backing. No stranded passengers will be excluded from the operation, and those with medical conditions are of high priority.
Vacation deals immediately nulled
An airline company’s sudden bankruptcy declaration will nullify all vacation deals availed by passengers. This is exactly what happened with Thomas Cook travellers where many ended up buying new packages or cancelling their vacations altogether. Based on global reports, weddings and special overseas celebrations were also terribly affected.
Hotels and vacation resorts winced from the Thomas Cook collapse as well. Owners were worried that they won’t get paid by the company, so they didn’t allow passengers to leave. One of such examples was holidaymaker, Sue Petrow, who was due to leave but her hotel had told her she could be held at the airport unless she paid her bill. Passengers clearly expressed their disappointment and anxiety over the incident.
To alleviate the stress of passengers, Thomas Cook’s competitors have decided to step in. TUI Airlines opened new flights and booking opportunities. Condor followed suit as well, although the company is careful in extending operations. Some aviation insiders have noted that Condor has recently requested financial assistance from the government – even before the collapse of Thomas Cook. Experts are aware that Condor and Thomas Cook have been partners for years.
All eyes are now focused on the British Government regarding the Thomas Cook crisis. Still, people are hopeful that the rescue operation, along with potential billionaires backing, all will prove to be successful in the coming days.