- Thousands left stranded abroad as world’s oldest travel company collapses
- Thomas Cook told customers it was ‘running as normal’ just hours before collapse
- Oliver Gill: Revealed: The five desperate days that ended in Thomas Cook’s collapse
- The Thomas Cook bosses who received £20m in bonuses in last 5 years as company collapsed
- Thomas Cook collapse: is my holiday safe?
- We’ll keep you updated throughout the day
Around 150,000 Britons have had their travel plans thrown into disarray after the collapse of Thomas Cook, leading to chaos in airports and hotels.
The 178-year-old travel giant has cancelled all its flights, leading the government to initiate its biggest repatriation effort since the Second World War.
A rescue fleet has been scrambled to bring back holidaymakers stuck overseas. Codenamed Operation Matterhorn, dozens of charter planes, from as far afield as Malaysia, have been hired to fly customers home free of charge.
The company’s 21,000 employees — around 9,000 of whom are UK-based — have lost their jobs, with 600,000 people worldwide having their travel plans disrupted.
Thomas Cook collapsed into liquidation overnight , a failure that consigns the most iconic name in world travel to the annals of history.
Richard Moriarty, the chief executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said the Government had asked his organisation to launch “the UK’s largest ever peacetime repatriation”.
In a statement, the CAA said: “Thomas Cook Group, including the UK tour operator and airline, has ceased trading with immediate effect.
“All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled.”
- Have your travels been disrupted by the Thomas Cook collapse? Share your experience by emailing email@example.com
Wrap-up: Ruptions and reflection on final day of a travel titan
With Thomas Cook brought low after about 178 years in operation, today has offered frustration for customers stuck abroad, worries for staff being laid off, and prompted widespread reflection from the many customers the company has served down the line.
The following weeks will undoubtedly raise further questions, not least as a political clash boils over whether the company should have received a bailout.
For now, we’re going to close things off here: keep tracking our home page and follow the Telegraph on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to get the latest updates. Have a good evening (and, if you are stuck in an airport or hotel as a result of today’s events, best of luck).
‘I’ve got some jobs tomorrow and my daughter’s got school’
Here’s more from Antalya airport in southern Turkey, via Andrew Wilks:
Donatas and Jolitta Petryla were due to return to Belfast with their 13-year-old daughter Rusna only to be told Mrs Petryla could not travel because her passport was still under her maiden name.
The couple, originally from Lithuania, have lived in Belfast for 16 years and travelled to Alanya for a holiday in a group of 11 adults and children.
“Me and my daughter got a boarding pass but my wife didn’t because her passport is in her name before we married,” said Mr Petryla, a self-employed locksmith. “The check-in staff told us to wait until the queue died down but by then there were no seats left.
“I gave mine and my daughter’s boarding passes away to another couple who had a similar problem and were travelling with a very young child.”
He said staff from the Foreign Office, CAA and Atol had provided no practical help.
“They just told us to call a number in the UK but it’s one pound a minute and they can’t do anything either. Now they’ve told us to wait but I don’t know what we’re waiting for. I don’t know what to do.
“They’ve said they will get us back to the UK but where in the UK I don’t know. I’ve got some jobs tomorrow and my daughter’s got school.”
This was the scene outside the airport earlier:
Reader story: ‘A very sad sign of the times’
Reader Ashley Bristoe, a “loyal customer” of Thomas Cook, writes in:
The warning signs were there even for me but they have strung people along until the last minute and then just walked away leaving people stranded, distressed and many without a livelihood.
To a degree, I acknowledge what the government has said about intervening but even if their involvement was short term , I am sure they could have allowed commitments to be honoured — certainly as the position is now, I understand it is due to cost around 3 times the amount just to get everyone home.
Luckily I have not yet travelled but for me to try and start the ball rolling to get some answers over my booking or getting some kind of refund has been a nightmare — still none the wiser and I have just had to pay out the same amount of money again to at least get to travel.
A very sad sign of the times from a company who has done too little too late.
- Share your experience by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow repatriation flights live
Air-tracker tool Flightradar has produced a map that allows users to track repatriation flights taking place as part of Operation Matterhorn:
We have updated our page at https://t.co/JvOhQUcRJL to include live tracking of most of the #ThomasCook repatriation flights. Some flights may not be visible due to differing or unknown call sign. pic.twitter.com/M4NRSPlRky— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) September 23, 2019
Why Thomas Cook collapsed
Here it is, in all its glorious detail: my colleagues Oliver Gill and Michael O’Dwyer have produced a full breakdown of why Thomas Cook fell apart:
Their piece gets into the nitty-gritty of debt, ill-advised purchases and strategic missteps that proved to be the company’s undoing — but also how a shifting holiday culture hurt the historic firm.
Video: How the Thomas Cook collapse affects your next holiday
Here’s a video with my colleague Nick Trend, explaining what the Thomas Cook collapse means for your next holiday:
Operation Matterhorn: 53 destinations in 17 countries
My colleague Oliver Smith writes:
Britain’s biggest peacetime repatriation has begun, with the Government facing the complex and costly task of fetching 150,000 stranded UK customers of the collapsed tour operator Thomas Cook from 53 destinations in 17 countries.
The Civil Aviation Authority has pledged to bring every British holidaymaker back home within two weeks, free of charge. Most will be able to finish their holidays, it says, before being flown back on a replacement service at a similar time to their original itinerary. Dozens of charter planes, from as far afield as Malaysia, have been hired to complete the mission, dubbed Operation Matterhorn.
The vast majority of stuck Thomas Cook customers are in the Med. Spain, Greece and Turkey were the tour operator’s three most popular destinations prior to its demise, and rescue flights will be operating from 11 airports is Spain (Alicante, Almeria, Girona, Reus, Ibiza, Menorca, Palma, Fueteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife), 13 in Greece (Corfu, Heraklion, Kalamata, Kavala, Kefalonia, Kos, Mykonos, Mytilene, Preveza, Rhodes, Santorini, Skiathos and Zakynthos) and four in Turkey (Antalya, Bodrum, Dalaman and Izmir).
Ben Marlow: Tough questions must be asked about Thomas Cook’s demise
Our Chief City Commentator Ben Marlow has given his verdict on Thomas Cook’s collapse. He writes:
There is a long list of questions that must be asked. The most obvious is how a company that notched up turnover of £9.6bn has ended up in the hands of liquidators.
Read his full piece here: Management ineptitude and apathy are the reasons for Thomas Cook’s demise
And don’t forget to sign up to receive Ben’s latest insight directly into your inbox using the sign-up link below:
Update: I’ve taken the images out of my 15:07 post, as they were rendering incorrectly. I’ll try to put them back in as soon as possible.
Here are all the areas where Thomas Cook passengers are currently stranded
To give a sense of the scale of the operation underway to bring stranded holidaymakers home, here’s a map of where flights will be coming from. This figure reflects the full 600,000-ish people currently stuck, not just the 150,000 Brits.
Post Office offers full refunds on travel money for stuck customers
The Post Office is offering Thomas Cook customers impacted by the company’s demise refunds by at the original price paid on currency purchased for holidays that have been cancelled.
Post Office’s Nick Boden said:
We want our customers to be clear that they can rely on the Post Office when they purchase foreign currency from us. We do not want to add to the financial pain suffered by disappointed holidaymakers whose plans are impacted by circumstances beyond their control so we are offering full refunds on money spent purchasing currency from Post Office Travel Money.
To qualify for a refund, customers will need to produce their currency purchase receipt and provide proof their holiday was cancelled.
Customers stuck in Turkey face waits of over three hours
Here’s reporting from on the ground in Turkey, by my colleague Andrew Wilks:
Thomas Cook customers heading home from holidays in Turkey faced delays of more than three hours when they arrived at Turkey’s Antalya airport on Monday.
Despite British government promises to cover the costs of hotel bills for those who booked their stay through the bust company, some tourists reported hotels demanding payment from departing guests.
“We were leaving and there was a big discussion going on at reception because the hotel wanted people to pay their bills,” said Paul Whoriskey, 55, from Wicklow, Ireland.
“Although it says the British government will pay people’s bills for up to two weeks the message obviously hadn’t got through to the hotel management.”
Mr Whoriskey, who was staying at the Sherwood Resorts and Hotels complex, also complained of a lack of information from Thomas Cook about what was happening.
“There’s been nothing from them at all,” he said. “They’ve got all our emails and everything but they haven’t been in touch to explain what’s happening. I had to find out from my sister in Dublin.”
Dean Nicol, 32, and Zoe Gray, 27, were also flying to Belfast after a week’s break on the Mediterranean.
They said they were impressed with the availability of staff from the Foreign Office and Atol. “They all seem to know what’s going on,” said Mr Nicol, from Belfast. “We came to the airport for our flight hoping for the best and it’s all fine so far, fingers crossed.”
Ms Gray added: “Our flight’s been delayed around three-and-a-half hours but that’s not too bad considering what’s happened.”
Robert and Julie Kay, both 52, were flying to Belfast to return home to Stranraer. “We checked in online for our flights this morning, which I was quite surprised about,” said Mrs Kay.
“We had no idea until we came to the airport what was happening with Thomas Cook going broke. I saw something on Facebook a few days ago but didn’t think anything more about it.”
Another Belfast passenger, Chris Noonan, returning with Titan Airways with his wife Chris after their Thomas Cook flight was cancelled, said the authorities seemed well-prepared.
“It’s a big task,” he said. “We checked the government website online this morning and they had all the information we needed.”
Nick Trend: Time was up for Thomas Cook
Reflecting on the company’s chequered history — including a spate under national owner ship between 1948 and 1972 — Nick Trend posits that Thomas Cook’s collapse, once the initial shock is over, won’t be widely mourned. He writes:
Thomas Cook is no more, and I’ve nothing but sympathy for its 20,000 staff now facing unemployment, but will travellers miss the company? I don’t think so...
...It choose to focus on the cut-throat sun-and-sand market, which meant it gained volume, but quickly lost its association with quality and expertise.
- Read more here: Travellers won’t miss Thomas Cook
Labour calls for Thomas Cook bosses to lose their bonuses
The Labour Party had called for Thomas Cook’s bosses to lose their bonuses as a result of the company’s collapse.
Gill Furniss MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs has written to Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom. In her letter, Labour’s press office say she has:
- Called on the Tories to join Labour’s call for Thomas Cook’s failing bosses to reject their bonuses.
- Criticised the government for its reckless refusal to save staff and customers from misery by taking an equity stake in Thomas Cook.
- And demanded the government finally begins its long delayed airline insolvency review.
My thoughts are with those who have lost their jobs with Thomas Cook today. I have written to @andrealeadsom to seek urgent clarification on what steps the government will take to support the 9,000 staff in the UK. https://t.co/H1qPIZGgz2pic.twitter.com/Pu21DG0KLg— Gill Furniss MP (@GillFurnissMP) September 23, 2019
Ms Furness wrote:
The government should have averted this crisis by taking an equity stake, and saving the company from collapse. Why did you refuse to act to prevent job losses on such a huge scale and why did you not protect British holidaymakers abroad?
The human cost of your reckless inaction cannot be exaggerated. The stress and misery of staff whose jobs and incomes are threatened, whose whole families will be worrying about how they will pay their bills; the way people’s holidays have been ruined by anxiety and chaos — these are the government’s responsibility... Will you now immediately join me in demanding that Thomas Cook’s failing bosses reject their bonuses?
- Here’s more on Thomas Cook’s bosses’ pay packets: The Thomas Cook bosses who received £20m in bonuses in last 5 years as company collapsed
Travellers face queues and disruption in Tunisia
From Tunisia, our reporter Stephen Quillen reports:
Thomas Cook travelers were queued up in Tunisia’s Enfidah Airport Monday morning waiting to catch a Titan Airways flight back to Manchester. British government officials and Atol representatives were there accommodating passengers and helping move along the process. But there was anger and frustration when upwards of 30 passengers didn't make it on the flight and were told to come back tomorrow.
Generally, the reaction among British holidaymakers was mixed, with some praising hotel staff and officials for working to quickly resolve the crisis, and others complaining of a lack of communication and assistance and endless delays.
Wendy Draycott, with daughters Michelle and Tracy (pictured below) remained upbeat despite their last-minute itinerary change.
“The hotel staff’s been amazing, the transfer's been amazing, everything’s been calm,” said Wendy. “Everything’s been fine.”
David Goodwin, from Manchester (pictured below), was exasperated after being told his name wasn’t on the flight manifest.
“I work in the aviation industry and i know how tough it can be and all the rest of it, but they’re supposed to be good at reacting and they’re supposed to be good at getting things done,” said Goodwin. “These guys are just exacerbating the problem.”
David and Patricia Atsbury from Manchester (pictured below) stayed at Les Orangers hotel in Hammamet, where hotel staff tried to block guests from leaving unless they re-paid for their trip Saturday night.
“It was a terrible mistake made,” said David Atsbury. “A PR catastrophe. It was bad enough with Thomas Cook, but to have it compounded with the hotel trying to get money off of guests that had already paid was even worse... It was the only hotel that pulled this hostage malarkey.”
Thomas Cook: All the best Telegraph journalism, in one place
Here’s our latest reporting on Thomas Cook’s collapse, in one spot.
If you’re not already a subscriber, you can sign up to access all the Telegraph’s journalism here — the first 30 days are free.
What’s going on?
- Thomas Cook told customers it was ‘running as normal’ just hours before collapse: The failed travel agent told customers the company was operating normally just hours before it announced its collapse into liquidation, reports Sam Barker. Key quote: “Implying that everything is okay is not only misleading, it's in effect handing your hard-earned cash over to the creditors of the business that are ahead of you in the line for compensation from the administrators.”
- Customer reaction: ‘We found out our holiday was cancelled on Twitter’: As many as 150,000 Thomas Cook passengers have been left stranded abroad awaiting repatriation — Jamie Johnson has their stories.
- Thomas Cook’s German airline Condor pleads for €200m Berlin bailout: Thomas Cook’s German airline Condor has applied for a bridging loan from Angela Merkel’s government in a bid to keep flying, Justin Huggler reports from Berlin.
What does the collapse mean for customers?
- Operation Matterhorn: Everything Thomas Cook customers abroad need to know: Britain’s biggest-ever peacetime repatriation is under way. Chris Graham has the key details.
- What happens to Thomas Cook flights and holidays? Everything customers need to know: The Telegraph’s Money team have all the information customers need.
Background and analysis
And here is all the background detail and analysis you need, via Oliver Gill:
- In-depth: What happened at Thomas Cook in the five desperate days that ended in collapse
- Opinion: The airline bosses who will welcome Thomas Cook’s collapse
Collapse could cost Turkey up to 700,000 visitors next year
Ripples from Thomas Cook’s closure could mean 600,000 to 700,000 fewer tourists visit Turkey next year, the country’s federation of hotel operators (TUROFED) has said. Reuters reports:
TUROFED chairman Osman Ayik said the estimate was based on the number of tourists that had come to Turkey with Thomas Cook in recent years. He said those tourists may now decide against returning with other travel agencies.
Ayik said there were currently 45,000 tourists in Turkey from the United Kingdom and other European countries who had traveled with Thomas Cook.
Dalaman Airport’s website showed at least seven flights to several UK destinations scheduled to depart on Monday had been cancelled.
Tourism is a major source of income for Turkey, helping to shore up its current account deficit, especially in the summer months.
More images from today...
Crowdfunding begins for cabin crew and spoiled weddings
Several people have launched crowdfunding campaigns to try and help staff who have lost their jobs, or rescue weddings that are set to hit the rocks.
One campaign on GoFundMe to raise money for cabin crew, has already had over £3,600 pledged to it.
As with any crowdfunding, please do your own research before donating.
Thomas Cook’s Turkish investor says company will be sold
Neset Kockar, chairman of Turkish tour operator Anex Tour, has told Reuters he expects Thomas Cook will be fully or partially sold off.
Shares in the company leaped around 40cp in July after Mr Kockar disclosed that he had taken a 6.71pc stake in the holiday company.
500 Brits stuck in Portugal
Citing information from the British embassy, Portugal’s Economic Ministry has said it is closely monitoring Thomas Cook’s collapse, which could impact around 500 Britons currently in the southern Algarve or on the island of Madiera. It said information and support is being provided to those affected.
Passengers held whip-round for staff during final flights into Manchester
Our reporter Jan Disley has details from on the ground at Manchester Airport:
Cabin crew were in tears as the final Thomas Cook flights touched down at Manchester Airport yesterday morning.
Kind-hearted passengers had a ‘whip round’ on one flight from Las Vegas after hearing how pilots and stewardesses probably wouldn’t be paid.
One captain left his cockpit to chat to the “lucky” few who were able to make it home as planned.
Another asked those on board to give staff a round of applause as they continued their “service with a smile”.
In Terminal One departures the flight boards littered with red signs reading “cancelled”.
A bad day for Thomas Cook(s)
There’s more than one Thomas Cook suffering today. From the wires:
A devastated groom named Thomas Cook has been left “shattered” after his dream wedding in Rhodes looks unlikely to go ahead after the collapse of the holiday company he shares a name with.
Thomas, 29, and his partner Amelia Binch, 27, are stuck on the Greek island after booking a getaway and wedding package with Thomas Cook.
They flew out on September 18 and are due to marry at the Lindos Princess hotel on September 27.
Guests were due to fly out with Thomas Cook over the coming days, including the best man.
But the couple, from Hucknall, Notts, have been told the wedding might not go ahead, as the Thomas Cook package included the wedding ceremony, flowers, cake, decorations and entertainment.
Inside Thomas Cook’s collapse
Thomas Cook’s collapse wasn’t the result of a sudden shock: it was the culmination of months of fraught talks and negotiations that went down to the wire.
My colleague Oliver Gill has the inside story of the company’s final five days, as it scrambled desperately to hold together a rescue package that could keep it afloat.
Even the Government and regulators have been caught out; despite weeks of contingency planning for the failure of the 178-year-old company, some holidaymakers face an anxious wait of up to two weeks before being airlifted home because the planes to take them home are not ready.
- Read his fascinating, blow-by-blow account here: Revealed: The five desperate days that ended in Thomas Cook’s collapse
Cypriot hotels ‘will take €60m hit’ from Cook’s collapse
Another big victim of Thomas Cook’s collapse is Cyprus, which relies heavily upon tourism.
Officials at the country’s tourism ministry estimate the collapse could cost the island’s hoteliers €60m a year, with a fall in British and Scandinavian visitors particularly harmful.
The country’s deputy tourism minister Savvas Perdios has reportedly cancelled all other engagements today to focus on the Thomas Cook fallout.
A blast from the past
Twitter user Bryan Elwick has shared some classic Thomas Cook posters, as a reminder of the company’s storied 178-year history:
Around 50,000 holidaymakers stuck in Greece
Here’s my colleague Nick Squires on the situation in Greece:
Around 50,000 holidaymakers are stuck in Greece as a result of the collapse of Thomas Cook, with one tour operator describing the company’s failure as “an earthquake”.
The tourists will be repatriated over coming days, with the first 22,000 expected to leave between now and Wednesday, said Haris Theoharis, Greece’s tourism minister.
Around 15 aircraft are expected to arrive today on the islands of Corfu, Kos and Zakynthos to pick up the stranded holidaymakers.
The repatriation is being organised with the help of Britain's Civil Aviation Authority.
Michalis Vlatakis, the head of a union of tour operators on Crete, where 22,000 people are affected, described the collapse as a “magnitude 7 earthquake”, the effects of which would be like “a tsunami”.
Full report: Condor turns to German government for bailout after Thomas Cook collapse
From Berlin, my colleague Justin Huggler reports:
Thomas Cook’s German airline Condor has applied for a bridging loan from Angela Merkel’s government in a bid to keep flying.
Condor, which remains highly profitable despite the collapse of its parent company, is desperate to keep operating.
But insiders warned on Monday that the airline will face bankruptcy unless the German government is prepared to bail it out.
Condor has not commented on the size of the loan it is seeking but German press reports put it at €200m (£176m).
“Flights are still operating despite the fact Thomas Cook Group plc has filed for bankruptcy. Germany’s most popular holiday flier has been profitable for many years,” Condor said in a statement.
But although flights were taking off, Condor was turning away passengers who had booked packages from Thomas Cook or its German subsidiaries on Monday.
Some 140,000 Germans are believed to be among 600,000 holidaymakers currently affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook.
The German government has not announced any plans for a repatriation operation like Britain’s Operation Matterhorn.
Hedge funds set for £200m payday from firm’s collapse
Hedge funds that bet on Thomas Cook’s collapse are set for a big payday.
While the Government scrambles to bring stranded Brits home (at a cost of roughly £100m), funds that bought credit default swaps — a form of insurance that pays out when a company collapses and is unable to repay its bonds — will win big from the tour operator’s demise.
Speculators including Sona Asset Management and ZAIA Investment GmbH stand to earn as much as $250m from the bankruptcy.
Political row begins over whether Thomas Cook should have been bailed out
Boris Johnson has defended his decision not to to rescue Thomas Cook, after Labour called for the collapsed tour operator to be given a state-backed bailout package.
Speaking to reporters as he traveled to New York to visit the UN General Assembly, Mr Johnson said of Thomas Cook’s rejected request for £150m from the state:
Clearly, that’s a lot of taxpayers’ money and sets up, as people will appreciate, a moral hazard in the case of future such commercial difficulties that companies face.
The Prime Minister instead said attention should be paid to the amount the travel giant’s bosses have been paid in recent years.
Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell accused the PM of “ideological bias”. He told the BBC:
The government’s intervention could have enabled us to just stabilise the situation, give a breathing space so that there could be proper consultation with the workforce in particular about how to go forward.
To just stand to one side and watch this number of jobs go and so many holidaymakers have their holiday ruined, I just don’t think that’s wise government.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has offered her thoughts to those people who have lost their jobs.
Inevitable that much of the focus today will be on those who have had flights cancelled, but the Thomas Cook collapse is devastating for the company’s many workers. My thoughts are very much with them and their families. https://t.co/KPz2ZTBCxy— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) September 23, 2019
Train services offer free tickets to affected customers
Network Rail’s train services are holding a unified line on travel disruption today, offering customers who have had their holiday plans foiled a free ticket to get back from the airport:
Following the collapse of #ThomasCook we want to support those impacted who may already have plans to travel to or from @LDNLutonAirport or @Gatwick_Airport. If you have bought rail tickets from us & no longer travelling, you'll be able to get a full refund (with no admin fee).— Thameslink (@TLRailUK) September 23, 2019
Following the collapse of #ThomasCook we want to support those impacted who may already have plans to travel to or from @LDNLutonAirport or @Gatwick_Airport. If you have bought rail tickets from us & no longer travelling, you'll be able to get a full refund (with no admin fee).— Great Northern (@GNRailUK) September 23, 2019
Any customers affected by the #ThomasCookcollapse who are unable to make their booked train will be permitted to travel on the next suitable service by providing reasonable evidence of a Thomas Cook booking.— GWR Help (@GWRHelp) September 23, 2019
Tunisian tourism minister: Thomas Cook owes hotels £60m
Tunisia’s tourism minister, Rene Trabelsi, has told Reuters that Thomas Cook owes hotels in the country €60m for stays in July and August. It’s likely we’ll be getting a clearer sense of the company’s widespread debts as the day continues...
‘We woke up this morning and heard on the news that Thomas Cook had gone bankrupt’
More testimonials from the wires:
American couple John Garrett, 40, and Ajoulyn Chaffe, 35, arrived at Gatwick to find Thomas Cook went bust while they were in the air.
Holidaymakers who had booked with Thomas Cook were ‘devastated’ when they turned up at Gatwick this morning to find their trips had been cancelled.
Among them were Jerry Blackwell, 47, who said he and his wife were scheduled to fly to Dalaman in Turkey at 5.15pm yesterday.
Mr Blackwell said: “We went to the boarding gate and someone said it was cancelled due to staff illness so we got put up in a Premier Inn last night and were meant to fly out at midday.
“We woke up this morning and heard on the news that Thomas Cook had gone bankrupt.”
- Read more here: Thomas Cook collapse: Misery across Europe as stranded Britons wait for repatriation
Thomas Cook staff pensions ‘are protected’
Thomas Cook staff who have lost their jobs today will have their pensions protected, according to the Pension Protection Fund — a statutory fund intended to protect members if their defined benefit pension fund becomes insolvent.
We understand this is an extremely difficult time for the members of @ThomasCookUK’s defined benefit pension schemes, but they can be assured that their pensions are protected by us. To find out more about the PPF and the protection we provide, see here. https://t.co/bGssuroVSr— Pension Protection Fund (@PPF) September 23, 2019
The PPF says it will be contacting Thomas Cook employees today:
To all members of the @ThomasCookUK defined benefit pension schemes, your pension trustees will be in touch soon with an update on your scheme.— Pension Protection Fund (@PPF) September 23, 2019
To understand how the PPF works and protects your pension click here https://t.co/X74NtvKvkV
Petition to bail out Thomas Cook nears 70,000 signatures
AChange.org petition to calling for the Government or a plucky investor to re-finance the collapsing tour operator is edging closer to 70,000 signatures. The petition, created by a Thomas Cook employee’s husband, says:
The iconic travel firm, the oldest travel firm, Thomas Cook has made dream holidays for us all and we have made so many memories, had work experiences and met so many great people that had effect in our lives.
Thomas Cook is one of Britain's most well known brands.
I so believe the company will come good again once this financial problems have been resolved.
Let’s help our Thomas Cook at this difficult times.
If the Government or any other lenders help to fund shortfall of money then the future will be bright.
Have your travels been disrupted by the Thomas Cook collapse?
Share your experience by emailing email@example.com
Final flight eyewitness: Clear staff had been left ‘in total limbo’
A passenger on one of the last ever Thomas Cook flights to fly has described how emotional staff broke news of the company’s collapse when they landed this morning.
From the wires:
Jason Ritchie, 50, was onboard a Thomas Cook flight from Orlando to Manchester with his wife Sharon, 49, when staff announced the company’s closure this morning.
Their flight took off at 12:30am UK time, half an hour after the travel company's collapse as staff rushed to get the flight off the ground.
Jason, from Nottingham, said: “We were just landing at Manchester Airport at 8:30am when the cabin crew announced that Thomas Cook had collapsed.
“We were due to set off from Orlando at 7:15PM local time on 22 September, and only experienced a 10 minute delay in taking off from there.
“When the staff announced what had happened, they sounded emotional and it was clear they'd been left in total limbo with no more information themselves on what we'd been told.
“I spoke to one of the cabin crew who said they’d heard nothing from head office, and hadn’t even spoke to their family — they had no idea where they stood with their jobs.”
Ex-affiliate Indian airline caught in crossfire
Thomas Cook India — which exited Thomas Cook seven years ago and now has no relationship to the collapsed group beyond its name — has nonetheless seen its share price suffer from rough headlines around the travel giant in recent days.
The company has taken to Twitter to try and clear up the confusion:
Thomas Cook PLC (UK) has no relationship with Thomas Cook India as we were acquired by Canada based Fairfax Financial Holdings (Fairfax) in 2012. We are completely independent of Thomas Cook UK & hence the news of their situation does not impact us. https://t.co/8hszrYqI69— Thomas Cook India (@tcookin) September 23, 2019
Turkey prepares support package for impacted customers
Authorities in Turkey, have warned hotels not to evict affected customers or demand money from them:
Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry warns hotels in Turkey: If you demand payments from tourists or evict them from their hotel rooms due to #ThomasCookCollapse, you will be prosecuted. https://t.co/TQExCGbZ27— Yunus Emre Oruç (@defusertt) September 23, 2019
Turkish tourism ministry also announces that they're working with the Finance and Treasury Ministry to provide a support package for the establishments affected by the collapse. #ThomasCookCollapse— Yunus Emre Oruç (@defusertt) September 23, 2019
Here’s a video purportedly from on board the final Thomas Cook flight:
Short-sellers set to win out from Thomas Cook’s collapse
One group who will be smiling today are Thomas Cook’s short-sellers: investors who had placed a financial bet that the company’s share price would fall.
Around 11pc of the company’s shares were being shorted according the most recent filing to the Financial Conduct Authority, with the biggest short positions held by TT International and Whitebox Advisors.
Condor and Thomas Cook split on number of stranded Germans
Other than the 150,000 Brits stranded abroad, it looks like another big chunk of the 600,000 customers left in the lurch by Thomas Cook’s collapse may well be German holidaymakers.
A few minutes ago, the travel company said there are 140,000 people abroad who are currently travelling with its subsidiaries in Germany. But Condor, its biggest German subsidiary, says around 240,000 are booked on its flight and awaiting a return home.
I’m sure more clarity will be forthcoming, but it looks like Germans will be feeling the disruption at least as much as Brits.
Scenes from around the world as travel giant collapses
Photos are pouring in from across the world as the aftershocks from Thomas Cook’s collapse spread:
Liquidation will have ‘major impact for the high street’
Thomas Cook’s collapse, as well as putting 9,000 people out of work in the UK, will also have a major impact on the nation’s high streets. Joanne Fearnley, partner and commercial property expert at law firm Gordons, says:
We must not forget in all of this that there is a major impact for the high street too. Thomas Cook has 588 stores which will inevitably close, a further blow for landlords already suffering from a number of high-profile closures and collapses. It’s another massive blow for the UK high street and underlines the need for imaginative change.
Thomas Cook collapse: Everything customers need to know
Telegraph Money have all the key info customers need about how Thomas Cook’s collapse could impact them:
Here are some of the key points:
Will my holiday be affected?
The good news is that Thomas Cook package holiday customers will not be left out of pocket because these holidays are protected by the company’s Air Travel Organiser’s Licence, or Atol.
What kind of compensation will I get and when?
Atol will step in to help with either a refund or a replacement holiday. Martyn James, of consumer champions Resolver, said: “If you’ve booked a packaged holiday with a flight, then Atol can help with disputes and cancellations.”
What if I'm already abroad? Will my return flight be cancelled?
Even if you were stuck abroad, you will get whatever help you needed to enjoy your holiday then return home. The Government has promised to ensure that all British travellers who were due to fly back within the next two weeks are brought home free of charge.
Is my hotel booking protected?
Martin Lewis, founder of website MoneySavingExpert, said those who’ve already paid for their hotels abroad as part of a Thomas Cook package shouldn’t pay again.
But, he added, “that won’t stop a few uncertain and scared hoteliers overseas wanting money directly from British travellers to be doubly sure. This could leave British tourists in sticky situations. If so, the Civil Aviation Authority has a helpline which should sort it for you.”
Liverpool FC ‘assessing the impact’ of Thomas Cook collapse on hospitality packages
Among its multi-faceted operations, Thomas Cook sells Liverpool fans hospitality packages to attend the club’s home games at Anfield. Liverpool FC said in a statement:
We are currently assessing the impact of Thomas Cook ceasing trading and the impact for those supporters who have purchased packages from Thomas Cook. Once we have those details from Thomas Cook we will update supporters.
First rescue flight sets off from JFK Airport
The first rescue flight as part of Operation Matterhorn has taken off from New York’s Matterhorn Airport carrying “over 300 passengers”, the CAA says:
The first Civil Aviation Authority repatriation flight has now left JFK, headed for Manchester with over 300 passengers on board.— UK Civil Aviation Authority (@UK_CAA) September 23, 2019
It is estimated to arrive at 5PM today.
If you have been impacted by #ThomasCook ceasing trading, please visit our website:https://t.co/g4G2b6RlHcpic.twitter.com/pfVPG6bL6Y
Newlyweds’ honeymoon plans ruined after flight is cancelled
News agency SWNS reports:
A honeymoon couple were among tens of thousands of people whose holiday plans have been scuppered by the collapse of Thomas Cook.
Jane and Richard Dawson, who tied the knot on Friday, stayed at a hotel at Gatwick Airport overnight in preparation for their ten-hour flight.
But the newlyweds, from Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, where the world’s oldest travel operator was based, woke up to find that their flight to Jamaica had been cancelled along with hundreds of others.
Jane and Richard, who were due to fly at 11.45am today, were told to go home by airport staff.
Thomas Cook’s final passenger flight lands
Sky News has footage of the last-ever Thomas Cook flight landing at Manchester Airport, just over an hour ago:
BREAKING: The last Thomas Cook passenger flight lands at Manchester Airport after the company collapsed following failed rescue talks.— Sky News (@SkyNews) September 23, 2019
Get the latest on the #ThomasCook collapse here: https://t.co/3Hgpl7YJkQpic.twitter.com/65sibJ4CO7
Stranded customers: ‘The hotel next door shut the gates and wouldn’t let people leave’
Around 600,000 people, including 150,000 Brits, have had their travel plans thrown into chaos by Thomas Cook’s collapse. My colleagues have been gathering stories from those affected:
Danielle Rutherford, on holiday in Tunisia told BBC’s Today programme: “We haven’t been told anything by Thomas Cook.
“The hotel have said we shouldn’t have to pay, but we don’t leave until Friday so we don’t know. My husband and I were told on Saturday that we had to pay £4,000.
“The hotel next door shut the gates and wouldn’t let people leave. We hope to be able to carry on our holiday and not worry about it.”
Read all their stories here:
MP: Collapse is ‘devastating news’ for Greater Manchester
Labour’s Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central, tweets:
With over 3,000 people in Greater Manchester employed by Thomas Cook, its collapse will have a massive impact on families and communities here. This is devastating news. https://t.co/89NzP2cHfI— Lucy Powell MP (@LucyMPowell) September 23, 2019
Thomas Cook: a timeline
How did Thomas Cook end up entering liquidation after 178 years in operation? Our timeline charts the key event in the travel group’s history:
‘Gutted doesn’t cut it’
Some of Thomas Cook’s 9,000 UK staff are speaking out on social media, sharing their memories of working at the company.
It was a short lived journey with Thomas Cook, but it was a job I wanted and loved. My heart goes out to my store colleagues and to all staff with Thomas Cook. Gutted doesn’t cut it�� pic.twitter.com/LuYcEGCHT7— molly ranger (@mollyroseranger) September 23, 2019
Thomas Cook’s German subsidiary seeks emergency loan
Condor, Thomas Cook’s subsidiary in Germany, will continue flying but has requested financial aid from the German government. AFP reports:
Condor, the German airline subsidiary of British travel giant Thomas Cook, said Monday it was requesting financial aid from Berlin to help keep it in the air even after its parent company declared bankruptcy.
Underlining that it had been “profitable for many years,” the airline added that “to prevent liquidity bottlenecks at Condor, it has applied for a state-guaranteed bridging loan” which is being examined in Berlin.
“We’re continuing to concentrate on what we do best: flying our guests safely and punctually to their holidays,” said managing director Ralf Teckentrup.
Swiss chalet group: Matterhorn code name is damaging for Switzerland
A Swiss chalet operator has raised concerns that Operation Matterhorn, the government’s codename for its operation to repatriate Thomas Cook customers, could cast aspersions upon Switzerland (home of the Matterhorn mountain, in the region of Zermatt). Matterhorn Chalets’ Ed Mannix told the Telegraph:
I think you will agree that whilst the Matterhorn is essentially Zermatt’s trade mark as well as Switzerland’s de facto national icon, any association with the calamitous financial failure of Thomas Cook cannot be good for us here.
In the circumstances, can anything be done on an official level to protect the reputation of Switzerland, possibly the world’s most financially secure country, and Zermatt, home of the Matterhorn and it’s most well-known known tourist destination?
Staff ‘in tears’ at Thomas Cook headquarters
Thomas Cook’s collapse is a tragedy for staff at its headquarters in Peterborough, who are set to lose their jobs as the company enter liquidation. Reuters reports:
Thomas Cook staff were seen hugging each other in tears at its headquarters in Cambridgeshire this morning — after the holiday company collapsed.
Hundreds of employees have been seen heading into the offices at Lynch Wood in Peterborough for a 10am meeting about the compulsory liquidation, which happened this morning after a weekend of talks to save the company.
Many looked tearful as they arrived at the headquarters, which employs around 1,000 people.
Scene at Thomas Cook HQ Peterborough where around 1000 employees are learning of their fate after the company collapsed after 178 years, more on @BBCCambs 95.7/96fm 1026mw DAB Freeview 722. pic.twitter.com/bNU66bS6hW— John Devine (@JohnDevine1961) September 23, 2019
Travel rivals’ shares climb after collapse
Thomas Cook’s collapse is paying off for other travel firms, with rival TUI soaring nearly 7pc up as the biggest climber on the FTSE 100 share index.
Easyjet, on the FTSE 250, is up just under 6pc. Other airlines such as Wizz Air, IAG, Lufthansa and Air France-KLM are all gaining.
RIP Thomas Cook. From a TUI fan. Airline rivalry means nothing on a day like this— Richard Wilson (@richwilson26) September 23, 2019
You’re never too big to fail.— Austin (@AustinDarbo) September 23, 2019
Last year, Thomas Cook bought in £9.5billion in revenue. Today, they collapse in disgrace. Another reminder to stay humble.
Feel sorry for staff and those stuck abroad.
So guess who was flying with Thomas cook to NYC ���� in less than 3 weeks time... yes that’s me ����— Georgie Higginson (@Georgina_higg) September 23, 2019
CAA chair: ‘Every single person will be brought back home’
The Civil Aviation Authority’s chair Dame Deidre Hutton has told the BBC that all Thomas Cook customers will be brought back home once their holidays finish. She said:
Every single person will be brought back home at the end of their holiday... Everyone will be brought home free of charge.
MoneySavingExpert: What Thomas staff who have been made redundant should do now
Martin Lewis from MoneySavingExpert has offered his sympathies to Thomas Cook staff who will lose their jobs due to the company’s collapse, tweeting:
Im v sorry for all Thomas Cook staff; horrid night 4u. Youll get specifics of your situation from the administrators..— Martin Lewis (@MartinSLewis) September 23, 2019
For provisional reading, there is info in our redundancy guide - incl claiming wages off the NI Fund https://t.co/E5WmSRR5cN
More reaction from Twitter...
...it looks like lots of customers had close calls:
We got lucky... we flew with Thomas Cook in June when the talks of liquidation started. I feel so bad for everyone who’s stranded #RIPThomasCook— Manika�� (@swiftlymanika13) September 23, 2019
Close call. Booked a holiday very recently after looking at the options. Nearly chose Thomas Cook as the service was so great but the firm couldn’t match the price offered by a local travel agent. Am feeling lucky for me, but very sorry for everyone caught up in the chaos.— Alan Dapré (@AlanDapre) September 23, 2019
Girlfriend was cabin crew with Thomas cook. Looked after passengers last night knowing not getting paid. Lost her job, company have abandoned her in Newcastle to find own way back to Cheshire. Other crew kicked out of hotels overnight. Who is looking after them @MC_HMGovernment— Radio Free Salford (@salfordpf) September 23, 2019
Thomas Cook’s Twitter support page has shut down
Thomas Cook Cares, the account through which the travel giant fields customer questions, has officially shut down, and will no longer be monitored.
We are sorry to announce that Thomas Cook has ceased trading with immediate effect.— Thomas Cook Cares (@ThomasCookCares) September 23, 2019
This account will not be monitored.
Please visit https://t.co/PLklUd1C7q for further advice and information.#ThomasCookpic.twitter.com/jnYvg8jpV3
The dedicated page for customer service support, run by the CAA, is here:
Labour’s McDonnell: Thomas Cook bosses should have to repay their bonuses
Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has said the government should have bailed out Thomas Cook, and that the travel group’s bosses should hand back their bonuses. He told the BBC:
When this crisis started I said to the government that they should intervene if only to stabilise the situation while a real plan for the future of the company could be addressed.
I think the government should have been willing to do more, intervene and stabilise the situation and allow a long-term plan to develop.”
To just stand to one side and watch this number of jobs go and to so many holidaymakers have their holidays ruined is not good government
John McDonnell says the Government should have bailed out Thomas Cook— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) September 23, 2019
He says it should have been given funding ‘with strings attached’, highlighting similar intervention in steel crisis
He says Thomas Cook bosses should ‘examine their consciences’ and pay back their bonuses
A 178-year legacy comes to an end
The last-ever Thomas Cook flight will land at Manchester Airport in just over half an hour. You can follow its progress via OAG Flightview here.
What began on 5th July 1841 with a train journey from Leicester to Loughborough ends in the next half an hour or so when the final ever Thomas Cook flight lands at Terminal 1 of Manchester Airport, completing its journey from Orlando. End of an era. pic.twitter.com/WQY0bKWV2m— Peter Ruddick (@ruddick) September 23, 2019
On social media, users are continuing to pay tribute to the company’s more than 20,000 staff.
Thinking of the thousands upon thousands of employees of Thomas cook this Monday morning, my heart truely goes out to them. Devastating �� pic.twitter.com/xIJ1JC6tTy— s a r a h �� (@xsarahorr) September 23, 2019
Wizz Air offers Cyprus ‘rescue fares’ for stranded Thomas Cook customers
Sensing an opportunity, rival airline Wizz Air is offering Thomas Cook customers hoping to fly between Larnaca and Paphos, Cyprus, and London Luton.
The airline’s managing director Owain Jones, said:
Wizz Air is pleased to offer customers whose travel plans between the UK and Larnaca or Paphos have been cancelled following the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook the opportunity to travel with Wizz Air between London Luton and Larnaca at the special price of £99/€109.99 [One way including all taxes and non-optional charges]. The number of seats available at this special rescue fare is limited and the special fare is available only to customers with confirmed Thomas Cook reservations until 30 November 2019 .
Staff ‘stabbed in the back’, says pilots’ union
Thomas Cook’s staff “have been stabbed in the back without a second’s thought”, the pilots union has claimed.
A statement from the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) said that while plans were in place to rescue stranded tourists, pilots and other staff have been left with no certainty about their future.
While detailed plans to repatriate passengers have been carefully put together and Ministers have and will continue to claim the credit for that, the staff have been stabbed in the back without a second’s thought.
Despite continuing to keep Thomas Cook going in recent weeks with dignity and integrity while their own futures were being secretly decided we don’t even know if staff will get a pay cheque this month. It is despicable. Thomas Cook pilots and all staff deserve better than this.
For pilots, BALPA will be supporting our members through the legal complexities of what Thomas Cook liquidation means for them and doing everything we can to help them find alternative jobs in other airlines.
On the Beach faces costs from Thomas Cook collapse
Another British travel company, On the Beach, has warned this morning that it expects to take a one-off hit as a result of Thomas Cook’s collapse.
On the Beach said that following the failure of Thomas Cook overnight it “is assisting customers that are currently in resort and whose travel plans will be affected”.
The beach holiday seller said it anticipates “a one-off exceptional cost associated with helping customers to organise alternative travel arrangements, and lost margin on cancelled bookings”. The company said it expects to recover the costs of cancelled flights but that it was still assessing the potential impact on its financial performance for its next financial year, which starts in October.
‘A deeply sad day’ — Thomas Cook's boss
Thomas Cook’s boss Peter Fankhauser has said the company's collapse “marks a deeply sad day for the company which pioneered package holidays and made travel possible for millions of people around the world”.
It was a matter of “profound regret” that he and the other board members were unable to save the company, he added.
Here is what else Fankhauser had to say in this morning's stock exchange announcement:
We have worked exhaustively in the past few days to resolve the outstanding issues on an agreement to secure Thomas Cook's future for its employees, customers and suppliers. Although a deal had been largely agreed, an additional facility requested in the last few days of negotiations presented a challenge that ultimately proved insurmountable.
It is a matter of profound regret to me and the rest of the board that we were not successful. I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners who have supported us for many years. Despite huge uncertainty over recent weeks, our teams continued to put customers first, showing why Thomas Cook is one of the best-loved brands in travel.
Generations of customers entrusted their family holiday to Thomas Cook because our people kept our customers at the heart of the business and maintained our founder's spirit of innovation.
Statement from Thomas Cook
Thomas Cook has made a statement to the stock market this morning confirming that it is entering liquidation.
Further to the announcement made on 20 September 2019, Thomas Cook Group plc (“the Company”) continued to engage with a range of key stakeholders over the weekend in order to secure final terms on the recapitalisation and reorganisation of the Company.
Despite considerable efforts, those discussions have not resulted in agreement between the Company's stakeholders and proposed new money providers. The Company's board has therefore concluded that it had no choice but to take steps to enter into compulsory liquidation with immediate effect.
The failed travel company confirmed that the High Court had granted an order for the Official Receiver to be appointed as liquidator. It said it expects Alix Partners will be appointed as special managers to act on behalf of the official receiver and that Alix will "work very closely with the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK to effect the repatriation of all UK customers impacted by this announcement".
‘My heart is broken’
Members of the company’s 21,000 staff reacted to the news on social media, some posting pictures of themselves walking from their last flights.
“Love my job so much, don’t want it to end,” Kia Dawn Hayward, a member of the company's cabin crew, said on Twitter.
Love my job so much, don’t want it to end����— Kia Dawn Hayward (@kiaandmusic) September 22, 2019
Thank you for making my dream job come true #ThomasCook , you will always be my first ever airline and the last in my Sunny Heart�� pic.twitter.com/1T4jL8cBsF
Chloe Rawlinson said: “Heartbroken to say the least. Had the most surreal 2 years of my life full of fun laughter and smiles all around and I’ll always be thankful for Thomas cook. 178 years of amazing service that has came to an end.”
Heartbroken to say the least�� had the most surreal 2 years of my life full of fun laughter and smiles all around and I’ll always be thankful for Thomas cook. 178 years of amazing service that has came to an end ���� #thomascookpic.twitter.com/NiacbR7lxH— Chloe Rawlinson (@xChloerawlinson) September 23, 2019
Absolutely devastated , 25 years I have given to #thomascook and it’s all gone overnight ��— BrendanMcgarry (@brenmcgarry) September 23, 2019
Holidaymakers also expressed sympathy for those who lost jobs.
My honeymoon has gone down the drain as we had booked with #thomascook but I don’t care, I’ll get refunded. I care about the employees who have lost their jobs with no warning and this close to Christmas, ❤️— Steph Wight (@steph_wight) September 22, 2019
Grant Shapps: ‘We will bring everyone home’
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has promised to bring all the affected Thomas Cook customers back.
Very sadly Thomas Cook has collapsed. The biggest UK peacetime repatriation in history is underway. We will bring everyone home. An enormous task, there will be some delays, but we're working round the clock to do everything we can. Visit https://t.co/0wVHltRgqB for details.— Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) September 23, 2019
Fosun 'disappointed' in collapse
Fosun Tourism Group, which noted it is a "minority investor with no board representation" in Thomas Cook, issued a statement after the travel operator's collapse.
The Chinese conglomerate, which owns Wolverhampton Wanderers, said:
"Fosun is disappointed that Thomas Cook Group has not been able to find a viable solution for its proposed recapitalisation with other affiliates, core lending banks, senior noteholders and additional involved parties.
"Fosun confirms that its position remained unchanged throughout the process, but unfortunately other factors have changed.
"We extend our deepest sympathy to all those affected by this outcome."
Dozens of charter planes hired
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announces dozens of charter planes have been hired to fly customers home free of charge.
In a statement, the Department for Transport (DfT) says all customers currently abroad with Thomas Cook who are booked to return to the UK over the next two weeks will be brought home as close as possible to their booked return date.
The DfT says Thomas Cook package holiday customers will also see the cost of their accommodation covered by the Government, through the Air Travel Trust Fund or Atol scheme.
Mr Shapps said:
"Thomas Cook's collapse is very sad news for staff and holidaymakers.
"The Government and UK CAA is working round the clock to help people.
"Our contingency planning has helped acquire planes from across the world - some from as far away as Malaysia - and we have put hundreds of people in call centres and at airports.
"But the task is enormous, the biggest peacetime repatriation in UK history. So there are bound to be problems and delays.
"Please try to be understanding with the staff who are trying to assist in what is likely to be a very difficult time for them as well."
Thomas Cook chief apologies
Peter Fankhauser, the chief executive of Thomas Cook, said the tour operator's collapse was a "matter of profound regret" as he apologised to the company's "millions of customers, and thousands of employees".
"We have worked exhaustively in the past few days to resolve the outstanding issues on an agreement to secure Thomas Cook's future for its employees, customers and suppliers.
"Although a deal had been largely agreed, an additional facility requested in the last few days of negotiations presented a challenge that ultimately proved insurmountable.
"It is a matter of profound regret to me and the rest of the board that we were not successful.
"I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners who have supported us for many years.
"Despite huge uncertainty over recent weeks, our teams continued to put customers first, showing why Thomas Cook is one of the best-loved brands in travel.
"Generations of customers entrusted their family holiday to Thomas Cook because our people kept our customers at the heart of the business and maintained our founder's spirit of innovation.
"This marks a deeply sad day for the company which pioneered package holidays and made travel possible for millions of people around the world."
Holidaymakers seeking information are being left frustrated as the website dedicated to the collapse is not up and running.
The CAA says: "We are aware that some users are having difficultly accessing the dedicated website for information and advice following Thomas Cook ceasing trading.
Please keep checking the website as it is currently launching."
CAA launches 'one of the UK's largest airlines'
Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the CAA, said it had launched "what is effectively one of the UK's largest airlines" in order to repatriate British holidaymakers.He said:
"News of Thomas Cook's collapse is deeply saddening for the company's employees and customers, and we appreciate that more than 150,000 people currently abroad will be anxious about how they will now return to the UK.
"The government has asked us to support Thomas Cook customers on what is the UK's largest ever peacetime repatriation.
"We have launched, at very short notice, what is effectively one of the UK's largest airlines, involving a fleet of aircraft secured from around the world. The nature and scale of the operation means that unfortunately some disruption will be inevitable. We ask customers to bear with us as we work around the clock to bring them home.
"We urge anyone affected by this news to check our dedicated website, thomascook.caa.co.uk, for advice and information."
Operation begins to bring home holidaymakers
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the Government had asked it to launch a repatriation programme over the next two weeks, starting on Monday and running to Sunday 6 October, to bring Thomas Cook customers back to the UK.
The CAA statement said:
"Due to the unprecedented number of UK customers currently overseas who are affected by the situation, the Civil Aviation Authority has secured a fleet of aircraft from around the world to bring passengers back to the UK with return flights.
"Passengers in a small number of destinations may return on alternative commercial flights, rather than directly through the Civil Aviation Authority's flying programme. Details and advice for these passengers are available on the dedicated website.
"Due to the significant scale of the situation, some disruption is inevitable, but the Civil Aviation Authority will endeavour to get people home as close as possible to their planned dates. This will apply to both Atol protected passengers and those who are not protected.
"Customers currently overseas should not travel to the airport until their flight back to the UK has been confirmed on the dedicated website.
"Thomas Cook customers in the UK yet to travel should not go to the airport as all flights leaving the UK have been cancelled."
Thomas Cook collapses
Good morning. All eyes are on Thomas Cook this morning after the travel operator collapsed in the early hours of Monday.
Thomas Cook has collapsed, a failure that will likely consign the most iconic name in world travel to the annals of history.
The Government and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have launched Britain’s biggest peacetime repatriation of customers.
The CAA said the tour operator has "ceased trading with immediate effect".
"All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled," it added.