Peterborough-based holiday company Thomas Cook has collapsed - resulting in the loss of more than 1,000 jobs in the city.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced early on Monday morning that the tour operator has "ceased trading with immediate effect" after last-ditch rescue talks failed.
It means more than 150,000 British holidaymakers who are currently abroad will need to be repatriated back to the UK, with the CAA and the government aiming to get them all home by October 6.
In a statement released shortly after 2am on Monday, Thomas Cook's chief executive Peter Fankhauser said the firm's demise was a "matter of profound regret".
“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," he said.
"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.”
Transport Secretary, and Welwyn Hatfield MP, Grant Shapps, tweeted that the repatriation operation would be an "enormous task."
Thomas Cook employed around 9,000 people in the UK - including 1,000 at its Lynch Wood headquarters in Peterborough.
They also operated around 600 high street stores across the country.
The business was founded way back in 1841 and was one of the the world's oldest travel companies.
In order to get customers home, the government have now hired dozens of planes with flights due to start on Monday.
Those with flights booked for the future have been told not to travel to the airport.
"If you are due to depart from a UK airport with Thomas Cook Airlines, please do not travel to your UK airport as your flight will not be operating and you will not be able to travel," a statement from the CAA read.
"This repatriation is hugely complex and we are working around the clock to support passengers."
Stansted Airport have confirmed all Thomas Cook flights from there have been cancelled, and passengers should not come to the airport.
- What happens next?
Anyone who is currently abroad on a Thomas Cook holiday and has booked to return to the UK over the next fortnight will be brought home "as close as possible" to their chosen return date.
Details of the flights will be posted on a special website.
Customers are being urged not to cut short their holiday without checking the website first.
The CAA is currently contacting all hotels looking after Thomas Cook passengers to inform them that the Air Travel Trust Fund and Air Travel Organiser's Licence scheme (Atol) will cover the cost of their accommodation.
All future holidays have been cancelled with immediate effect, but the Atol scheme means customers who have booked a package holiday will eventually get their money back.