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tv   Review 2019  BBC News  December 26, 2019 6:30am-7:01am GMT

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hello, this is breakfast with me, naga munchetty. good morning. here's a summary of today's main stories from bbc news. a man and his two children drowned in a "tragic accident" in a hotel swimming pool on the costa del sol — that's according to the resort‘s owners. the three family members were found unresponsive on christmas eve
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at club la costa world near fuengirola. reports suggest that a 9—year—old girl got into difficulties in the water and her father and brother tried to rescue her. a powerful typhoon has caused major disruption in parts of the central philippines. 16 people are thought to have died and 25,000 have been stranded since the storm hit the islands yesterday. winds of more than 120 miles an hour battered towns and villages. the authorities say they've yet to assess the full scale of the damage. thousands of people in australia have been forced from their homes for the holidays as the country battles some of its worst bushfires in years. since september, almost 3,000 firefighters have been out every day in new south wales tackling fires, some of which are the size of small european countries. the royal navy skipped yesterday's festive celebrations to monitor a russian ship as it made its way through the english channel. the hms tyne was sent at short notice from portsmouth to monitor the vessel over the past 48 hours.
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the commander thanked his crew, and said national security didn't stop for christmas. a murder investigation has begun in south west london after a man was shot dead on christmas eve. police were called to battersea church road at around 9pm on tuesday, where they found the victim, believed to be in his 30s. no arrests have been made. you might be gearing up for a boxing day walk this morning. well, new research shows just how popular a stroll by the sea has become. nearly 30 million people ambled along england's coastal paths over the past six months, boosting the economy and helping to create local jobs. the data has been collected by natural england, which is currently establishing a 2,700—mile path around the entire english coastline. people across the world have been looking to the skies this morning to spot a rare solar eclipse. sadly, it wasn't visible here in the uk, but much of the middle east and south asia
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witnessed the annular solar eclipse, which is also known as a ‘ring of fire‘ — where the moon doesn't completely cover the sun. it's not christmas without a bit of a glitz and sparkle, so strictly come dancing returned to our screens for the annual festive special. former contestants dusted off their dancing shoes and took to the floor once more. but it was debbie mcgee that lifted the trophy with her professional partner kevin clifton. congratulations to them! now a special programme where tom burridge revisits of the collapse of travel firm thomas cook and its far—reaching effects on customers and staff. all chant: what do we want? answers! when do we want them? now! it is a travesty, it has devastating our lives because of thomas cook airlines uk.
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the captain turned around to me and said to me "it is gone". i went into the flight deck and cried. when do we want them? now! it has not been possible to save one of the most—loved brands in travel. after 178 years, it was all over. as i got to the airport, i started to cry, because i thought "i'm coming here in a uniform and i've got nowhere to go". you can't just leave brits stranded abroad. i want to go home! bankruptcy, bitterness and rage. i think it has been a national scandal to let a company of that size and that heritage in the industryjust fall like that. they took millions of british tourists abroad every year. the biggest brand offering
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winter or summer sunshine. thomas cook was the uk's oldest travel business, also the best—known travel brand on the high street as well. so it had a huge amount of love and respect from its customers and its employees. it changed the way people travel... two weeks in greece, late july. let's see! ..and created a new concept — the package holiday. don'tjust book it — thomas cook it. trips to places like spain became the new norm as tourism boomed. and as our travel addiction took off, thomas cook grew and grew. exotic, enticing destinations were affordable for millions. but what the glitzy marketing didn't show was that thomas cook was in debt. we know we've been in
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the news a lot recently... the message injuly — all will be fine. keep booking! with thomas cook, your holiday is in safe hands. they were wrong. we just want to bring some breaking news now on thomas cook. we have just heard in the last few minutes that thomas cook has ceased trading. thomas cook, one of the world's biggest tour operators, has collapsed after last—ditch talks to save the business failed. britain's oldest travel group, thomas cook, collapses. the company's fleet of planes was grounded in the early hours of this morning, wrecking the holiday plans of so many people. as its planes landed back in britain one last time, they were seized and impounded at uk airports. that name, a giant of uk
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travel, was bankrupt. it had taken people on organised trips for a century and a half, but the age of the thomas cook holiday was done. people sort of suspected that it would never happen, then it did. so it was a very sad day and the repercussions are just continuing to spin out now. check—in at uk airports normally bustling on a monday morning, suddenly a sorry sight. people felt the impact of the company's collapse straight away. i was told to come here, now to find out that my flight has been cancelled, with three kids. my son has adhd and autism, and his sister, and they are sobbing their hearts out in the car. i got in touch with thomas cook yesterday and they said everything had gone through and there was nowt to worry about. i got in touch with thomas cook
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to make sure everything was going ahead and they said under no circumstances the holiday would be cancelled. and we would be put on another plane regardless of whether they went into liquidation or not. we got set off at 3am this morning, and we were given a duty of care number, and they said the holiday can't go ahead because there were no planes available. i was reporting at gatwick once the news broke. look at this. yesterday, check in here would have been very busy. but with the company collapsing overnight, its airlines effectively vanished. there was inevitable chaos, and you'd think that on a story that big, that everyone had seen the news but people were still pitching up to the airport, hoping, probably, that they could somehow get on a flight, get on their holiday. we are gutted, disappointed. i mean, it meant a lot to us. it's our first holiday away together. i'm still angry. we met stephan and zoe, who were supposed to fly to the canaries to scatter her dad's ashes.
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with them on the trip, their young children. they are devastated, they've cried, you know, they're not themselves. they'd been looking forward to this for months and months. we didn'tjust decide to go, we've planned this. we had to get paperwork for the ashes. we had to do everything. martin and gemma has been planning their wedding on a greek island, but they'd booked it all with thomas cook. it broke my heart. i couldn't believe it. was gutted. didn't want it to be true. it'lljust seems for nothing now. we are a bit confused and empty. don't really know what to do. all of that planning and it's sort of... ..all gone. but the big challenge for the authorities was at airports abroad. when the company folded, there were 150,000 people already on thomas cook holidays
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in places like majorca. now, it was down to the uk government to get every single one of them home. we knew the scale of what we had to undertake. nothing like this has ever been done before. there's never been a peacetime repatriation that's been as big. so, yeah, we were pretty nervous and absolutely keyed up to do it. but, yeah, kind of biting our fingernails at the same time. the operation was codenamed matterhorn. the civil aviation authority had been planning it for weeks. we really, really hoped there was going to be a commercial solution for thomas cook, because really this was not an operation we ever wanted to undertake. i mean, thomas cook — it's the world's oldest travel company, it's employees, it's customers, it's really sad. i think actually almost up to two days beforehand, we thought there was the possibility of a commercial solution but, of course, you have to prepare for scenarios that are very different.
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but even before the operation to bring people home had begun, hotels were, for a while, refusing to let customers leave — as my colleague gavin lee witnessed first hand in majorca. well, this is the main thomas cook—run hotel in palma, and we are being told by staff that everything is ok but management will not speak to us. and if you look, they've got security here for the first time. they are quite nervous. it's one of a number of hotels, we understand, are waiting to be paid in arrears from thomas cook and meantime, they are still having to look after the customers too. reception don't know what is happening. they said "yes, the hotel is open at the moment." we feel like at any moment, like, we are vulnerable and could be asked to leave. thomas cook customers had paid for their holidays but many hotels which were owed money by the company were initially unaware that they'd be refunded by the uk's atol travel insurance scheme, and some were demanding people
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pay for a second time. we went out for dinner last night and came back to the hotel and we couldn't get into our room. so we had to go downstairs to the lobby and the lady said you basically give us 340 euro and you can get back into your room. so that is what we had to do. it was up to the uk's civil aviation authority to reassure hotels that they would be paid. we spoke, in the first three days, we spoke to 3,500 hotels, which — individually — and some of them were reasonably quite cross. 0ne hotel in mexico that was owed over $1 million. so they were not happy. but we did manage to reassure them that the atol—protected customers would be paid for, and that calmed things down and allowed people to continue their holidays.
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to understand the scale of the company's demise, it helps to consider its rise, which began — yes — right back in the 1800s. one of its shops can even be spotted on the corner of st mark's square in venice in 1898. the firm then enjoyed a century of growth and success — a winner in the modern age. but in 2007, it merged with mytravel to create a much bigger group. that's when its debt grew. other factors like competition from online travel agents, or 0tas, then pushed it over the edge. various factors. importa ntly, competition for thomas cook had increased massively in the last decade, so new players likejet2 holidays, and 0tas took millions of customers now away from the big tour operators.
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it had been a challenging market, with brexit uncertainty and a weak pound, but ultimately, thomas cook's problems came back to this huge debt they had been saddled with from a previous business merger which meant the business was not able really to be truly profitable because it had to put so much of its profits back into servicing the interest on the debt. in the wake of thomas cook's downfall, the immediate priority was to get the tens of thousands of tourists back to britain. hi! the manchester flight is full, right? the compa ny‘s staff, who had lost theirjobs, helped out. 0ur rep was really good. he came to that hotel two or three times today, didn't he?, to make sure we could get home and make sure we knew what was going on. but with confusion inevitable, that first day at airports like palma, in majorca, was the hardest.
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to watch the matterhorn repatriations effort at first was chaotic. it didn't go well at all. there were hundreds and hundreds of thomas cook passengers coming to the airport. they were anxious, they took cabs — they did not know if the coaches would turn up. they were told by thomas cook staff and also the civil aviation authority to stay in one corner of the departures lounge, and that built up and built up. there were some people there for 18 or 19 hours, sitting down, lying on the floor, some crying as well, working out how they would get home. by day two, it was completely different. the big airlines had come in to help and it was really smooth from there. the civil aviation authority had experience to draw on — when monarch airlines collapsed two years ago. then, it had to repatriate more than 100,000 people. but 0peration matterhorn, which cost the uk government £40 million, was significantly bigger.
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at the beginning of week two, i was allowed on board an airbus a380 tasked with bringing hundreds of people home. this airbus a380 is about to head to sunny majorca to bring around 400 thomas cook customers back here to rainy manchester. this plane, the largest in a fleet of aircraft assembled by the civil aviation authority, to bring tens of thousands of people home. this shows you just how different running a repatriation mission is to operating a commercial an airline. the aircraft leave uk airports empty. but when they are in majorca, the authorities get as many holidaymakers as possible on board.
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before the company went bust, there were seven thomas cook flights scheduled to leave palma today for uk airports. with this giant aircraft, those seven flights become one into manchester. it has been absolutely fabulous. the holiday was fabulous. the information was fabulous. we have to get to manchester — we live in brighton, so we've got to get a coach down. so what? people have lost theirjobs. it's all been fabulous. initially, yes, it was worrying. very lucky. very lucky, considering all of the staff who have lost theirjobs and people who have lost their holidays. we managed to finish ours, so you cannot say more than that really. then, the flight back and the paper cups a reminder about who was supposed to fly them home. but some did travel in style for the first time. never thought i would see the day that we would be sat in business
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class, i think it's ace! we couldn't believe it when we came up the steps. we're in business class, aren't we? brilliant, we've never flown like this before! the civil aviation authority had to operate a complicated flight schedule over two weeks. overall, it was a job well done. the planning had paid off, some problems werejust hard to foresee. silly things, in a way, would go wrong. for example, there were fourairports in cuba. because we only had one big plane, we thought it would be sensible to amalgamate everyone to one airport, great idea, but there wasn't enough fuel in cuba to bus all those people to one airport. so forget that plan! it was things like that that went wrong all the time. i was very, very glad
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when the last plane landed! it was, for many, notjust a job, but a dreamy lifestyle. travel, sunshine, and working for a powerful brand. but in a flash, it was all gone. 9,000 people in the uk had lost theirjobs. is it here we sign for the redundancy courses? they came together soon after at manchester airport. as i got to the airport, i started to cry because i thought i've come here in a uniform, but i've got nowhere to go. my colleague simon
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browning was there. people who i've spoken to, nobody expected it to happen. it was like the death, a death in theirfamily. they had always worked together and known the structure and suddenly, it vanished. my name is betty knight. i was cabin crew for thomas cook airlines for 12 years. our management seem to have disappeared into the sunset with millions and millions of pounds. while all of our lovely passengers and customers have been helped by the civil aviation authority who have done an incredible job and they have been assisted, our cabin crew, members of our cabin team, have been stuck without even a word or a phone call, in really dire circumstances. what do we want? answers! when do we want them? now! what do we want? answers! when do we want them? now! within days, thomas cook staff had travelled from different parts of the country to westminster.
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we wa nt a nswers! we want it now! the impact of what had happened was still sinking in. we just cannot understand what has gone wrong. we've not been paid, a lot of us have children and mortgages, people have gone to food banks. it's unbelievable we are in this situation. we have just been pushed out. i won't get anotherjob, i'm too old to be employed now. it's a travesty. 0ur lives are ruined because of thomas cook airlines uk. but top of their minds were questions about how the business went under. why did this company not go into administration but they went into liquidation overnight, in two hours. why? it's not on, we need answers and we need them now. all of the big ceos and their big bonuses, we understand they need to have bonuses but they must have known what was going on. peter fankhauser has a lot to answer for. peter fankhauser was in charge
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when thomas cook went bust. this is a statement i hoped i would would never have to make. it is deeply distressing to me that it has not been possible to save one of the most loved brands in travel. thank you. he was paid more than £8 million in the last five years. weeks later, he was grilled by mps. do you think that bonus should be paid back? i can say i worked tirelessly for the success of this company and i'm deeply sorry i was not able to secure the deal. this man also faced questions. can we just ask, do you feel responsible for the failure of the company? manny fontenla—novoa was in charge during the period when the debt really grew. he insisted he was not to blame for the demise of the company.
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when we heard the news on the morning of the 23rd, i was still awake. i was watching it unfold. i was heartbroken, devastated. for about two weeks after that, i couldn't even get dressed. i couldn't face the world. got a bit anxious. suffered from anxiety and depression actually as well. it took me a good three or four weeks to be able to go back out there and start applying forjobs. when that came to an end for me and i realised i was no longer involved in that industry, it was such a shock. the benefits, emotionally and psychologically, to fly are great. when that ends as suddenly as it did, it is a huge loss. people who weren't earning huge salaries at thomas cook are facing a new reality this christmas.
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i'm now near retirement. it is not likely i will get anotherjob. it's just... why did it finish in that way? that's not how i wanted to finish my career. it's a big feeling of loss. one of our friends, she ended up with her partner using her redundancy to live in a hotel, in a b8b and she was declared homeless. she has been on the waiting list. another friend was put out of her accommodation very quickly. she is having to be supported. it happened so quickly, overnight. what do you think the overall impact has been on you, in the three months since? simon has discovered many people still out of work have struggled to get financial support from the state. i think the system has failed me. it isn'tjust me. loads of ex—colleagues
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going through the same situation and the system has failed us. we paid tax and national insurance all our working lives to be given nothing. it makes me angry and frustrated with the system. i've paid my tax. i've worked hard and i've done everything that has been expected of me to contribute to our society. when i needed the department for work and pensions, when i needed jobseeker's allowance, i haven't been able to access that. my claim for that has been cancelled by them three times. and then i am told that i caused the delay? you are left bewildered by the system. we put all of these claims to the department for work and pensions, they have said they are sorry and are urging all former thomas cook staff to keep in touch with theirjob centres so they can urgently try
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and fix these claims. thomas cook staff are also perplexed by the fact that the company's german airline, condor, was kept afloat and is still operating today. the government was forced to defend its decision not to save thomas cook's uk airline. whilst i hear people saying, why didn't you just put the money in, the answer is, all you would have to do is open their books and realise, if you have £1.7 billion of debt, if you lost £1.5 billion in six months alone, if you issued another profit warning, this is entirely different to the condor situation which was a fundamentally profitable airline. but a positive turnaround for some staff, who went back to work. hays travel announced it was saving around 500 thomas cook stores. i'm sat with all of my team now, they would all be happy to come back to the branch. nicola and her colleagues, who thought they had lost theirjobs, were with the bbc‘s coletta smith when they got a call to say that they were now not unemployed.
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they are opening and we just have to contact them. clapping. it wasjust incredible, for me one of the most amazing moments as a journalist to be in the room at that moment when someone's life is turned around in seconds. they thought they would be made redundant. they were already looking for other jobs, looking for other work but then to be told they got theirjobs back was incredible. they were in tears, hugging each other. we were joining in. you couldn't not, in a room like that. it was so exciting and emotional. just incredible to be there. as travel evolved over the decades, thomas cook navigated huge change and reaped the rewards. but, in 2019, that romanticjourney came to an abrupt end. thomas cook employees and thomas cook customers, whether they had their holiday
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or were waiting for the insurance to pay out, and our staff and all the people who help, it was something like 1 million people affected. it's an enormous number and on top of that, you've got all of those hotels abroad and in some areas, these hotels were really relying on thomas cook passengers to revitalise the economy. certainly the biggest story i've ever covered in 13.5 years of travel trade journalism. something we will continue to write about for years, if not decades, i am sure. i think it has been a national scandal to let a company of that size and heritage and history just fall like that. life has moved on, and i don't think you ever actually know or get the answers to questions that the crew and people who work for thomas cook would seek. the oldest brand in british travel is gone. and those who were the heart and soul of the company will be picking up the pieces
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well into the new year. we want answers, we want them now! what do we want? answers! when do we want them? now!
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good morning. welcome to breakfast with me, naga munchetty. 0ur headlines today: the owners of a spanish hotel where a british man and his two children died say their drowning was a "tragic accident". a powerful typhoon tears through parts of the philippines, leaving at least 16 dead and tens of thousands stranded. a team effort that is saving my life and prolonging my life


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