Travel giant Thomas Cook has ceased trading after failing to secure a last-ditch rescue deal, leaving an estimated 150,000 Britons abroad awaiting repatriation.
Flights to and from Bristol Airport were stopped at around 2am this morning (Monday 23 September).
The airport is telling passengers who were due to depart on Thomas Cook flights not to come to the terminal.
Bristol Airport is expecting two repatriation flights to land on Monday afternoon, one from Corfu and another from Menorca.
Passengers from across the West Country have been left stranded overseas as they await confirmation of repatriation flights home.
One couple from Bristol who are travelling with their young baby say they have been "left in the dark".
Lauren Salter and Will Hacker say they are in "holiday limbo" as they await for news of their return flights.
One holidaymaker from Falmouth in Cornwall had no idea about the company's collapse. He was enjoying a stay at the Kamari Bay Hotel on Kos when he heard the news.
Charles Fittus told ITV News he's positive about being able to get home.
Dozens of the company's high street travel agents across the West Country are set to close immediately, including those in Plymouth, Bath, Bristol, Taunton, and Gloucester - to name a few - putting hundreds of jobs at risk.
The company was unable to secure the extra £200 million needed to keep the business afloat following a full day of crucial talks with the major shareholder and creditors on Sunday.
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’s chief executive Peter Fankhauser said his company had “worked exhaustively” to salvage a rescue package.
“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,” he added.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to help holidaymakers stranded by the firm’s closure, as he questioned whether bosses are not incentivised to prevent their business’s demise.
Mr Johnson told reporters on board the RAF Voyager travelling to New York for the United Nations General Assembly that his thoughts were with customers.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said dozens of charter planes, from as far afield as Malaysia, had been hired to fly customers home free of charge and hundreds of people were working in call centres and at airports.
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.
“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.”
The CAA’s dedicated website for the firm’s customers, thomascook.caa.co.uk, crashed shortly after the announcement.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said 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.
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, the DfT said.
Unions representing Thomas Cook staff, of which there are 9,000 across the group in the UK, had previously urged the Government to intervene financially.
A million customers will also lose their future bookings, although with most package holidays and some flights-only trips being protected by the Atol scheme, customers who have not yet left home will be given a refund or replacement holiday.
For those on holiday, the scheme will make sure they can finish their holiday and return home.
One of the world’s oldest and largest travel companies, the firm had been trading for 178 years – having been established in 1841 by a cabinet maker who organised a day trip for temperance movement supporters.
According to its website, as of this year the group employed 21,000 people in 16 countries, operated 105 aircraft and 200 own-brand hotels and resorts.
If you’ve been affected, the Civil Aviation Authority have launched a 24 hour helpline:
- 0300 303 2800 from the UK and Ireland
- +44 1753 330 330 from overseas
Read more: Why did Thomas Cook collapse?