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TUI assures on business model as it expands operations

Leisure firm TUI Group is assuring that it will not suffer the fate of rival Thomas Cook Group, insisting that its business model is strong and that it has evolved away from being a traditional tour operator.

Its German division has expressed its confidence in the business as the company unveiled a substantial expansion of its activities, and sought to offer pilot and cabin crew positions to former Thomas Cook crews.

TUI Deutschland head Marek Andryszak says the demise of Thomas Cook is a "bitter" situation, particularly for its employees.

But he states that customers and partners "can rely on the financial strength" of the leisure firm.

"TUI's business model differs significantly from the other organisers' and is proving currently to be very robust," says Andryszak.

He points out that the company has, over the past six years, strategically shifted to become an integrated holiday experience provider with its own hotels and cruise ships – with the traditional tour operator business account for only 30% of its activities.

"Package holidays are still the safest and most convenient way to travel," he adds.

TUI Group says it acted quickly after the collapse of Thomas Cook, holding talks with tourism ministers in the most important holiday destinations within days of the bankruptcy.

The company says it will offer another 2 million seats to resorts in several locations including Greece, Turkey, Egypt, the Canary and Balearic Islands, Mexico and Florida.

Its expansion of flight activities will create positions for over 100 new pilots and 200 cabin crew.

TUI Airways managing director Dawn Wilson says the carrier is to offer jobs to more than 50 captains from Thomas Cook Airlines.

"Every year we welcome new cabin crew and pilots and this year is set to be our biggest and best yet," she adds.

UK cockpit union BALPA says it is "really pleased" that so many new positions have been "earmarked" for former Thomas Cook pilots. The union says TUI is achieving business growth in a "morally-responsible way".

TUI Group adds that it is holding talks with "many" of Thomas Cook's travel agencies with a view to possible partnerships.

Thomas Cook Group was wound up on 23 September as the company was engulfed by a financial crisis as it tried to negotiate a rescue plan.

Formal records from London's High Court show that the wind-up order was made at 01:47.

The judge, Marcus Smith, said that the early hour of the order was "highly desirable" because a "large majority" of the Thomas Cook Airlines fleet would, at the time, be "stationary" – with about six in flight – enabling the Civil Aviation Authority, receivers, and liquidation managers to start work before most scheduled flights were due to commence.

Thomas Cook Group's financial position had deteriorated over the previous 12 months, said the judge, as a result of challenging trading conditions, customer uncertainty, and a substantial increase in competition, leaving it with unsecured financial indebtedness of £1.9 billion.

He added that the company was facing an "urgent cash-flow crisis", with suppliers demanding pre-payments, and that Thomas Cook Group was likely to "run out of money" by 4 October, and possibly earlier.

Thomas Cook Group, he said, theoretically had four options open to it – to trade without recapitalisation, negotiate a recapitalisation, enter administration, or enter compulsory liquidation.

"In practice, three of these options are utterly unviable," the judge stated. "Liquidation is the only appropriate course open to the directors."

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