Within hours of the bankruptcy of the world's oldest travel company, Thomas Cook, on Monday, the United Kingdom launched Operation Matterhorn – the largest repatriation in its peacetime history.
About 150,000 tourists trapped abroad following the collapse of the 178-year-old company will be brought back to the UK by the authorities within the next two weeks.
The reason the operation was codenamed Matterhorn is unknown.
The US Army used that exact name in 1944 during a strategic bombing campaign in Japanese positions in India and China. But for Europeans, the name is probably better known as a mountain in Switzerland and Italy. It is impressive because it is an almost symmetrical pyramidal peak.
Travelers, even those who have never heard of the Swiss-Italian mountain, would probably know Matterhorn because it appears on the packaging of a famous worldwide candy bar airport, Toblerone.
A spokesman for Britain's Department of Transportation said, however, that the code name was an operational decision and that the government "would not comment on operational decisions."
But the Swiss city of Zermatt, located on the Matterhorn mountain, protested the name.
"Why should coordinate returns be called" Operation Matterhorn? " city tourist office said in a statement.
"Zermatt Tourism points out that the Zermatt-Matterhorn destination is not connected to this. The British government probably does not know that" Matterhorn "is an internationally protected brand and a symbol of relaxing holidays, safety and quality. Attributes that are not really represent the travelers' current frustration (Thomas Cook), "he added.
"Maybe the British government just wanted to give an indication of where affected travelers can spend a carefree vacation in the future?"
Matterhorn Chalets's Ed Mannix asked the United Kingdom to "publicly remove" the alias and "make it clear that Switzerland, Zermatt and the mountain are by no means associated with the plight of Thomas Cook, the tour operator and his unhappy customers. . "
An estimated 600,000 people were affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook. The UK government and the Civil Aviation Authority have hired 40 aircraft and organized 1,000 flights to repatriate the affected Britons. The total cost of the operation is estimated at 100 million pounds (113 million euros).
. (tagsToTranslate) Thomas Cook (t) Bankruptcy (t) Social network (t) Switzerland