LONDON: In this file photo, pedestrians walk past a branch of a Thomas Cook travel agent's shop in London. Tour operator Thomas Cook has confirmed it is seeking £200 million in extra funding as it attempts to prevent a collapse.-AFP

LONDON: Embattled
UK travel firm Thomas Cook on Friday sought a further emergency capital
injection, seeking to stave off a collapse that could trigger Britain's largest
repatriation since World War II. Thomas Cook said in a statement that it needed
£200 million ($250 million, 227 million euros) -- in addition to the
£900-million rescue deal secured last month that handed control of its tour
operator business to Chinese peer Fosun.

Sources said a
collapse of the group, which some reports said could come as soon as the
weekend, would mean the repatriation of 600,000 tourists, including 150,000
seeking government help returning to the UK. "We can confirm that a
contingency plan exists to deal with this situation," Richard Taylor,
spokesman for Britain's Civil Aviation Authority told AFP.

"We cannot
discuss the details of this plan but we have run similar operations in the
past." The 178-year-old company has approached a range of potential
investors including the UK government, a source close to the matter told AFP,
confirming a report in the Financial Times. Two years ago, the collapse of
Monarch Airlines prompted the British government to take emergency action to
return 110,000 stranded passengers, costing taxpayers some £60 million on
hiring planes. The government at the time described it as Britain's
"biggest-ever peacetime repatriation".

'Risk of

A fresh
recapitalization for Thomas Cook "is expected to result in existing shareholders'
interests being significantly diluted, with significant risk of no
recovery", the company said Friday. Shares in Thomas Cook, which have
collapsed already in recent months, lost around 23 percent of their value on
Friday, standing at just 3.4 pence. "The travel group is at risk of
collapsing if it doesn't receive the financing," noted David Madden,
analyst at trading group CMC Markets UK.

Thousands of
workers could also lose their jobs, with Thomas Cook employing about 22,000
staff worldwide, including 9,000 in Britain. Fosun, which was already the
biggest shareholder in Thomas Cook, agreed last month to inject £450 million
into the business. In return, the Hong Kong-listed conglomerate acquired a
75-percent stake in Thomas Cook's tour operating division and 25-percent of its
airline unit.

Creditors and
banks agreed to inject another £450 million under the recapitalization plan
announced in August, converting their debt in exchange for a 75-percent stake
in the airline and 25 percent of the tour operating unit.

Announcing Friday
the need for more funds, Thomas Cook said: "Discussions to agree final
terms on the recapitalization and reorganization of the company are continuing
between the company and a range of stakeholders, including its largest
shareholder, Fosun Tourism Group."

Thomas Cook in
May revealed that first-half losses widened on a major write-down, caused in
part by Brexit uncertainty that delayed summer holiday bookings. The group,
which has around 600 stores across the UK, has also come under pressure from
fierce online competition. - AFP