The first of over 155,000 stranded British tourists are being flown back home after renowned travel agent, Thomas Cook collapsed on Monday.
The United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is co-ordinating the repatriation, the biggest in peacetime after the tour operator ceased trading with immediate effect.
Thomas Cook’s Chairman, Peter Fankhauser said the folding up of the company’s administration puts 22,000 jobs at risk worldwide, including 9,000 in the United Kingdom.
Thomas Cook, whose roots go back to 1841 went bankrupt after last-ditch talks to raise fresh funding failed. The British Broadcasting Corporation ( BBC) reports that the UK government was asked to fund a bailout of £250 million which was denied.
This is even as some 16,000 holidaymakers were booked to come back on Monday, with authorities hoping to get at least 14,000 of them home on chartered flights.
All Thomas Cook holidays are now cancelled and customers are required to seek compensation via the government’s Atol scheme or in the alternative, from their credit card or insurance companies.
Some passengers trying to get home have reported queues and disruption at airports while others complained that they have been left in the dark about what happens next.
While an estimated 150,000 Britons are affected by Thomas Cook’s collapse, the company has up to a further 450,000 customers abroad, some of whom have been affected.
In Germany, one of Thomas Cook’s main markets in the insurance sector will help organize the response to its collapse.
According to the British Department for Transport, British customers will be brought home as close as possible to their booked return date.
Customers will be on special free flights or booked on to another scheduled airline at no extra cost, with details of each flight to be posted on a dedicated website as soon as they are available.
The Department of Transport added that a small number of passengers might need to book their own flights home and reclaim the costs.