Thomas Cook asks government for bailout as it tries to prevent collapse

Thomas Cook has asked the government for financial help (Picture: Getty)

Thomas Cook has asked the government for a last-minute bailout as it attempts to prevent a collapse.

The tour operator could go into administration this weekend, which would leave 150,000 Brits stranded abroad, while the firm also employs 9,000 people in the UK.

Thomas Cook confirmed it is seeking £200 million in extra funding to prevent it from going into administration.

It hopes the threat to the UK public will help it secure taxpayer money but this is looking unlikely, the Times reports.

The newspaper said the government was concerned the company was not viable in the long term.

Banks are insisting Thomas Cook finds £200m more in extra contingency funds (Picture: Getty)

Government officials have drawn up plans for what would be “Britain’s biggest peacetime repatriation” if the firm goes under, according to the Daily Mail.

It added it was called Operation Matterhorn and had been put together by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Civil Aviation Authority.

The DfT said: "We do not speculate on the financial situation of individual businesses.”

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Thomas Cook said it is in talks with stakeholders, including leading shareholder Fosun, to bridge the funding gap.

Sources said the firm’s lending banks, including RBS, demanded the extra £200m to provide further contingency.

They added Thomas Cook has “days rather than weeks” to secure the extra cash.

It is understood Thomas Cook had found a third party to provide the extra £200m, but is now rapidly hunting cash after that party backed out.

The 178-year-old firm has suffered recently as a result of mounting debts, reporting a £1.2 billion net debt in its half-year results in May.

It has also been hit hard by an influx of online competitors which has resulted in oversupply, forcing tour operators to cut prices.