Updated: Danish travel firm resumes services after Thomas Cook bankruptcy

Spies, the Danish travel company owned by Thomas Cook, resumed its services on Tuesday, but passengers at destinations are still unsure about their return journeys.

Updated: Danish travel firm resumes services after Thomas Cook bankruptcy
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT/Ritzau Scanpix

Passengers booked with the Danish company were left disappointed on Monday as services from Denmark were cancelled in the fallout from Thomas Cook’s insolvency.

But Spies later announced via its website that it would resume operations on Tuesday.

“There was a lot of hard work on Monday to get Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia back in the air and thereby to normal service. We can now confirm that air travel will resume from Tuesday September 24th”, the company wrote.

As such, departures from Denmark will take place as normal unless Spies announces an exception, in which case passengers will be informed.

“We are very sorry that so many passengers have been affected by (Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy) and will do our best to bring our stranded guests home as soon as possible. We understand that this has caused concern and worry for those affected,” Spies wrote.

Customers currently at their destinations who are waiting for return travel will receive further information via SMS, the company said.

Spies director Jan Vendelbo told Ritzau that the leasing contract for Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia aircraft had been released from Thomas Cook, enabling flights to resume.

“We have been able to move the aircraft which were registered with Thomas Cook Airlines in the UK across to our Nordic company. They have flown the planes before, but our flight traffic was halted due to them being registered in the UK,” Vendelbo said.

Although aircraft are departing again as of Tuesday, Spies customers may continue to experience problems.

“We are aware that, due to the insolvency, there has been a certain turbulence with regard to payment for certain hotels at holiday destinations. There may continue to be problems in coming days, for which we apologize,” Spies writes on its website.

“We have ongoing contact with affected parties in order to resolve this,” it added.

Passengers whose entire trips were cancelled on Monday will receive refunds but will not instead be able to travel on Tuesday, Vendelbo said.

Meanwhile, Spies customers at their destinations are still facing uncertainty about return travel and compensation, according to information provided by a passenger who contacted The Local.

In an SMS sent to customers in Madeira on Tuesday and seen by The Local, Spies wrote that “we still have no information regarding your return travel or when it will be”.

On its website, the company states that a small amount in compensation will be paid to guests with flight delays on their return journeys.

“I called Spies… and they don’t know the actual amount I will receive. However, no refund or partial refund for the actual ticket (will be given)”, the passenger, who preferred to remain anonymous, said via email. 

READ ALSO: Thomas Cook bankruptcy: How it is impacting Danish travel customers

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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