UNITED KINGDOM – British budget airlines easyJet and Jet2.com have bought the take-off and landing slots of failed travel company Thomas Cook at London Gatwick and Manchester airports, respectively.

Thomas Cook’s UK business and airline went into immediate insolvency when the company collapsed in September, and a court appointed an official receiver to liquidate its assets.

The collapse of Thomas Cook, the world’s oldest travel company with more than 178 years of operation stranded tens of thousands of passengers as its UK business immediately stopped trading.

It also sparked the biggest ever peacetime repatriation by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to bring more than 150,000 British holidaymakers back to the UK.

 The last flight to repatriate Thomas Cook customers landed at Manchester Airport in early November, 2019.

EasyJet bought Thomas Cook’s slots at London Gatwick and Bristol airports for 36 million pounds ($46 million), while Jet2.com, owned by Dart Group, bought slots at Manchester, Birmingham and Stansted for an undisclosed price.

London Gatwick and Manchester had been Thomas Cook’s main UK bases, and the liquidators have now sold all the available slots in Thomas Cook’s UK portfolio.

EasyJet acquired 12 of summer slot pairs and 8 winter slot pairs at Gatwick, plus six summer slot pairs and one winter slot pair at Bristol, in the deal. The airline added that contractual terms had been concluded.

Independent travel agent, Hays Travel has also bought Thomas Cook’s network of 555 British travel agent shops in a move which the company says will save about 2,500 jobs.

China’s Fosun, which had been the largest shareholder of the group, has also bought the Thomas Cook brand for US$12.13 million, effectively saving the brand from obscurity.

Its Nordic business was rescued in October, 2019 by Norwegian property tycoon Petter Stordalen and private equity firms Altor and TDR Capital who agreed to inject a total of US$618 million into the company’s operations, its German airline Condor is still operating.