Thomas Cook bankruptcy: How it is impacting Danish travel customers

Customers with travel companies operating in Denmark may be affected by the insolvency of British company Thomas Cook.

Thomas Cook bankruptcy: How it is impacting Danish travel customers
Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

Danish travel firm Spies is owned by Thomas Cook, while other companies have some services placed with Spies or the British company.

Thomas Cook ceased trading after talks failed to produce funding for the struggling travel company, resulting in cancellation of all the company’s flights and bookings.

Spies also cancelled all of its scheduled travel services on Monday. As such, Spies services from Copenhagen to Madeira and from Billund to Cyprus will not operate today, DR reports.

Exact consequences for Spies customers in the coming days are unclear at the current time.

“A lot of things must fall into place before I can say with certainty what the consequences will be. But those travelling on Thomas Cook Scandinavia Airlines departures must unfortunately expect that they will not travel this morning. They will be contacted by their travel companies with information about what will happen instead,” Spies head of communications Lisbeth Nedergaard told DR.

“Those who are on Spies holidays right now must wait for information about what will happen. But all package holidays sold through Spies are covered by (Denmark’s) travel guarantee fund [Rejsegarantifonden, ed.] which means they will all be provided with travel home,” Nedergaard said.

Up to 1,400 Spies customers have been affected by the Thomas Cook collapse on Monday alone, the company said.

“Those who are on holiday will come home and those whose departures have been cancelled will be offered an alternative or another solution, for example compensation,” Nedergaard told DR.

Two other major travel companies on the Danish market – Tui and Apollo – have a limited number of passengers affected by the insolvency.

Those companies have some seats on some Spies or Thomas Cook services due to the practice of companies buying seats from each other.

Tui Denmark’s press manager Mikkel Hansen told DR that at least 400 customers travelling to Tenerife in September or October would have to be rebooked to other flights, and that other changes would also be necessary for bookings made for the winter months.

“Affected customers will be notified,” Hansen said.

Apollo’s head of communications Glenn Bisgaard said that around 100 customers would be affected on flights to Gran Canaria or Madeira, although the company did “not yet have a precise figure”.

Apollo is currently working on alternatives for affected customers, who will be contacted by the company once a solution has been found, DR reports.

Rival company Bravo Tours, which does not have passengers affected by the Thomas Cook bankruptcy, said it will try to assist Spies customers whose holidays or return journeys have been cancelled.

“We will try to bring home guests when we have free spaces and will also add to planned services so we can get people to their holiday destinations,” Bravo Tours spokesperson Stig Elling said to Ritzau.

Bravo Tours was unable to say how many Spies passengers it would be able to assist, however.

“It will be minimal in relation to how many guests there are. We will try to find extra capacity,” Elling said.

“This is the biggest collapse I can recall in Danish travel history. It’s sad, and they didn’t deserve this in Scandinavia,” he added.

The Spies travel company was founded in the 1950s and is a well-recognized company and brand amongst Danish holidaymakers.

The company provided 24.3 percent of all Danish charter holidays in 2018, DR reports based on figures from

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Could Oslo-Copenhagen overnight train be set for return?

A direct overnight rail service between the Norwegian and Danish capitals has not operated since 2001, but authorities in Oslo are considering its return.

Norway’s transport minister Knut Arild Hareide has asked the country’s railway authority Jernbanedirektoratet to investigate the options for opening a night rail connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.

An answer is expected by November 1st, after which the Norwegian government will decide whether to go forward with the proposal to directly link the two Nordic capitals by rail.

Jernbanedirektoratet is expected to assess a timeline for introducing the service along with costs, market and potential conflicts with other commercial services covering the route.

“I hope we’ll secure a deal. Cross-border trains are exciting, including taking a train to Malmö, Copenhagen and onwards to Europe,” Hareide told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The minister said he envisaged either a state-funded project or a competition awarding a contract for the route’s operation to the best bidder.

A future Oslo-Copenhagen night train rests on the forthcoming Jernbanedirektoratet report and its chances of becoming a reality are therefore unclear. But the Norwegian rail authority earlier this year published a separate report on ways in which passenger train service options from Norway to Denmark via Sweden can be improved.

“We see an increasing interest in travelling out of Norway by train,” Jernbanedirektoratet project manager  Hanne Juul said in a statement when the report was published in January.

“A customer study confirmed this impression and we therefore wish to make it simpler to take the train to destinations abroad,” Juul added.

Participants in the study said that lower prices, fewer connections and better information were among the factors that would encourage them to choose the train for a journey abroad.

Norway’s rail authority also concluded that better international cooperation would optimise cross-border rail journeys, for example by making journey and departure times fit together more efficiently.

The Femahrn connection between Denmark and Germany, currently under construction, was cited as a factor which could also boost the potential for an overland rail connection from Norway to mainland Europe.

Night trains connected Oslo to Europe via Copenhagen with several departures daily as recently as the late 1990s, but the last such night train between the two cities ran in 2001 amid dwindling demand.

That trend has begun to reverse in recent years due in part to an increasing desire among travellers to select a greener option for their journey than flying.

Earlier this summer, a new overnight train from Stockholm to Berlin began operating. That service can be boarded by Danish passengers at Høje Taastrup near Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the new night train from Copenhagen to Germany