By James Bryce
THOUSANDS of Brits planning trips to the Spanish Costas through package holiday giant Thomas Cook face huge uncertainty as the firm fights for survival.
Shares plummeted 75 per cent after bosses admitted they had requested 115 million euros from lenders, just a month after receiving a similar amount.
The operator takes seven million Brits on holiday each year but is struggling to cope with debts which could top 1.7 billion euros by the end of the year.
The sudden change in fortunes for the 170-year-old firm is being blamed on various factors including the economic downturn, the Arab Spring revolutions and volcanic ash from Iceland.
However, Thomas Cook has also been forced to ditch 500 hotels – many of which are on the Spanish Costas – after it admitted they were not good enough.
In response to the crisis, Thomas Cook’s acting chief Sam Weihagen said: “We thought it would be prudent to have a robust financial position so we decided to go to our banks.”
The company – Europe’s second biggest tour group – was also quick to calm the fears of jittery customers worried about the fate of their holiday.
Its Twitter page said: “Thomas Cook reassures all customers it is business as usual. Our holidays are fully protected and can be booked with complete confidence.”
UK travellers are automatically covered by the government-backed ATOL scheme, allowing them to claim their money back, while travellers already abroad would be able to get home.