Thousands of holidaymakers have been left stranded as Thomas Cook ceased trading after talks to rescue the holiday company failed.
An estimated 150,000 British holidaymakers are due to be brought back home in what has been described as the largest peacetime repatriation.
Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook’s chief executive, said the company’s collapse was a “matter of profound regret”, reports BBC News. The travel company has entered compulsory liquidation, putting 22,000 jobs at risk worldwide, including 9,000 in the UK.
Founded in 1841 in Leicestershire by cabinet-maker Thomas Cook, the company had traded for some 178 years.
According to BBC transport correspondent Tom Burridge, 16,000 Thomas Cook holidaymakers were booked to return home on 23 September. Some 45 jets have been chartered by the UK government in what is been called Operation Matterhorn. It is hoped that 14,000 of the 16,000 stranded holidaymakers will return home today.
EasyJet and Virgin are among the airlines supplying planes for the operation.
Speaking to BBC News from Manchester airport, travel expert Simon Calder said Thomas Cook “wasn’t ready for the 21st Century”.
“Now everybody can pretend they are a travel agent. They’ve got access to all the airline seats, hotel beds, car rentals in the world and they can put things together themselves,” he told the BBC.
An emergency line has been set up for those peopple scheduled to return to the UK in the next 48 hours – 0300 303 2800 in the UK or +44 1753 330 330. Further information is on the Thomas Cook website.
Up to 6 October, passengers will be flown home either on CAA flights or flights by other airlines. Any return flights after 6 October, passengers will have to make their own arrangements and reclaim costs.
Thomas Cook Holidaymakers Rights
Atol will cover the cost of any package holiday booked, although holidaymakers may have to move to different accommodation.
Atol also covers holidays booked in the futue where refunds will apply, but not flight only deals where customers should apply to their travel insurance company to seek a refund.
In a press statement, Giles Hawke, CEO of Cosmos, confirmed that, “every booking with us, via Thomas Cook, is safe and customers’ holidays will go ahead.
“If customers have a Cosmos, Globus or Avalon Waterways holiday booked via Thomas Cook, we advise them to get in touch with our team on 0208 315 4611.”
Lanzarote Retreats has confirmed that it is happy to provide accommodation to any holidaymaker stranded on the island by the Thomas Cook collapse free of charge. If you are stranded in Lanzarote, contact [email protected].