London (AFP)

The options were reduced Saturday for the troubled British tour operator Thomas Cook, who seeks to find additional funding this weekend to avoid a resounding bankruptcy and massive repatriation of its 600,000 tourists around the world.

A source close to the case told AFP that the additional 200 million pounds (227 million euros), which were deemed necessary for a sustainable bailout in a sustainable manner, would not come from new private investors.

The last chance to avoid bankruptcy to the tour operator is therefore that the government agrees to inject these funds.

According to the same source, talks between Thomas Cook and the government continue, even though the daily The Times said Saturday it was unlikely that the government intervenes.

Thomas Cook's board meets on Sunday. "We will know by tomorrow if an agreement is found" and if the pioneer of tour operators will survive, concluded this source.

The Department of Transport and Thomas Cook, as well as several creditors of the tour operator, including RBS, declined to comment immediately.

The possible bankruptcy of Thomas Cook, the oldest tour operator in the world, would be a thunderclap for European tourism.

In case of collapse, Thomas Cook will have no choice but to immediately organize the repatriation of 600,000 tourists around the world, including 150,000 British, which would make it the most important operation since the Second World War. the country.

As a tour operator and airline, the group generates approximately 10 billion pounds of revenue per year for some 20 million customers from 16 countries, mainly traveling to southern Europe and the Mediterranean.

But it has been weakened in recent years by stiff competition between tour operators especially in sunny destinations such as Spain, which pulls down prices and squeezes margins.

Thomas Cook was also hit hard in 2018 by a heat wave in Western and Northern Europe, which pushed potential tourists to enjoy the weather at home.

Finally, the uncertain economic environment, particularly in the United Kingdom with the vagueness surrounding the Brexit and the fall of the pound, weighs on consumer morale and their purchasing power.

The group considered that it was no longer viable as it was and set up a vast restructuring plan with a takeover of its tour operator activities by the Chinese Fosun and its airline by its creditors.

But the promised 900 million pounds is not enough and Thomas Cook needs another 200 million to continue his activities.

© 2019 AFP