Repatriation is a word you don't hear too often. It's when someone is returned or brought back to his or her home country after being abroad. And the government of the United Kingdom has launched the largest peace time repatriation in British history. The reason — a British travel company suddenly went out of business Sunday night. And at that time it had about 600,000 customers on vacation, including 150,000 people from Britain who were stranded in other nations. The travel company is Thomas Cook. It was named for an English businessman credited with inventing modern tourism in the mid-1800s. Until this weekend, the company that bore his name was one of the largest travel businesses on the planet.
It said it had tens of millions of customers. But it was in financial trouble. An analyst said there were a list of reasons why. Thomas Cook had run out of cash. It was r?acking up a lot of debt. It had more online competitors whose costs were cheaper than a company with more than 500 retail stores. Some experts say it wasn't managed well. Some say it had been slow to change with the changing market and some believe that uncertainty over Brexit, the British exit from the European Union, had made some Britains less willing to spend as much on travel.
Thomas Cook was trying to make a rescue deal with banks and its largest investor. But when that deal fell through over the weekend, the 178 year old company was finished. It's CEO apologized to customers, employees and partners, calling this a deeply sad day. And the British government launched Operation Matterhorn, the repatriation effort to bring home travelers who’d booked their vacations through Thomas Cook and became stuck when the company collapsed.