Thomas Cook will meet with key parties on Sunday morning in a final bid to piece together a rescue deal.

The meeting, first reported by Sky News, is understood to be taking place at City law firm Slaughter and May.

Among those attending will be the firm's biggest shareholder, along with creditors.

It comes as the crisis-hit tour operator asked the government to step in and pay the money needed to keep it afloat.

The travel company faces falling into administration this weekend if it does not find an additional £200m in funds.

Banks have urged Thomas Cook to raise additional funds to bolster its position ahead of the winter, when business is typically quieter.

If the company was to collapse, as many as 150,000 Brits could be stranded abroad.

Thomas Cook has about 180,000 customers abroad right now. Credit: PA

Sources told the Daily Mail on Friday that Thomas Cook could go bust on Sunday - raising the possibility that tens of thousands of Britons could miss out on upcoming holidays they have booked with the firm.

In a statement to the BBC, the Department for Transport said in a statement: "We do not speculate on the financial situation of individual businesses."

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association, which represents workers at the company, said the Government should be ready to assist with “real financial support”.

General Secretary Manuel Cortes called for an urgent meeting with Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom.

He said in a letter: “It is incumbent upon the Government to act if required and save this iconic cornerstone of the British high street and the thousands of jobs that go with it.

“Thomas Cook can be a highly successful business and must be given every opportunity to flourish. I urge you to stand ready to assist Thomas Cook with real financial support.

“The company must be rescued no matter what. No British government in its right mind would countenance the loss of so many jobs and the prospect of just one major travel operator – TUI – controlling the mass market.”

  • What could happen to Thomas Cook? ITV News Business Editor Joel Hills explains

In the event of administration, the group will cease trading immediately.

Some 500,000 customers (150,000 of them British) will find themselves temporarily stranded; the taxpayer will fund an expensive repatriation effort; 20,000 employees (9,000 of them in the UK) will lose their jobs; shareholders will be wiped out and the group’s assets (the few aircraft and hotels that Thomas Cook owns, and the brand itself) will be sold to raise money for creditors.

It’s unthinkable that banks and bondholders will get back anything like the £1.7 billion they are owed.