The bankruptcy of Thomas Cook, the purchase of Air Europa and the crisis the Boeing 737 Max, tourist themes of the year 2019

The year 2019 has been a very intense year of tourist news among which the bankruptcy of the British tour operator Thomas Cook, the purchase of the Air Europa airline by Iberia, the merger of the travel agencies of Globalia and Barceló, the crisis of the Boeing 737 Max model, and the opening to high speed competition with the arrival of the new AVLO.

Among the big issues have also been the ‘soap opera’ of the Imserso trips, the tourist crisis in Catalonia derived from the sentence of the ‘procés’ and in the islands by the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook and the resurgence of Mediterranean destinations.

Spain is heading to close another year with a record of tourists. The forecasts of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism point to another maximum of 83.4 million, after 82.6 million travelers received in 2018. And it is that Spanish tourism continues to rise and already contributes 12% of the Internal Product Gross (GDP) and 13% of employment in Spain despite the recovery of competing destinations in the Mediterranean that has caused some slowdown in growth.

Even so, tourism spending will once again record another historical maximum by touching 92,000 million euros, up 2.4%, according to the government in office.

Despite the threats of Brexit the United Kingdom, the largest issuer of travelers to Spain with 22% of the total, has stabilized and resisted. In parallel, the market share, both in arrivals and in expenditure, of long-haul countries, such as States or Asia, has grown above the average this year.

One of the news that has most affected the world tourism sector this year has been the bankruptcy of British tour operator Thomas Cook last September. The second largest world tourism group went bankrupt after 178 years of history leaving more than 600,000 tourists stranded in what meant the greatest repatriation since World War II.

Hundreds of flights were canceled and many hoteliers and wholesalers still carried a debt of millions of euros. In Spain, the Government approved a crash plan of 13 measures valued at around 300 million, of which 200 were ICO credits. It was mainly focused on the Balearic and Canary Islands, the regions most affected by bankruptcy.

And it is that the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook was a tremendous setback for the tourism sector of the Balearic and Canary Islands, destinations very dependent on the British giant. On its planes alone, without the customers of its tour packages flying in other companies, the broken company moved 3.6 million tourists to Spain in 2018.

All this caused a decrease in European tourists arriving in the islands, which adds to a decrease in the main Spanish markets (British, German, French and Nordic) that again experienced falls throughout the year.

Another touristly affected region this year has been Catalonia. The wave of violence of independence with altercations in the streets of Barcelona and cuts in highways, train stations and airports has led to a decline in tourism in the region and a decrease in prices to maintain the occupation. Hotels recognize that a slow recovery process has now begun again.


The news of the year, and perhaps that of the century, was the announcement of the purchase of Air Europa by Iberia. The largest transaction in the history of Spanish aviation for 1,000 million in cash is still pending the approval of Brussels.

With this operation, which spoiled Juan José Hidalgo’s company negotiations with Air France, IAG would dominate 72% of domestic domestic traffic, with 174 airplanes and some 7,000 million revenue. Both airlines competing on some 50 routes will now have to share markets.

One of the goals of absorption is to create a large ‘hub’ in Barajas capable of competing with the great Europeans such as Heathrow, Frankfurt, Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam.

Another major fusion of the tourism sector was the one between Globalia and Barceló. After selling Air Europa, the group led by Javier Hidalgo announced the merger of its travel agencies with those of the Barceló group resulting in a large tourism giant with 1,500 points of sale and an aggregate turnover of 2.8 billion euros.