Package holiday specialist Thomas Cook is no more, having failed to secure the money it needed to restructure its business and continue operating. So it's gone, flights cancelled and everything, just like that. As well as unpaid bills, the travel company leaves behind the staggering mess of 150,000 UK citizens currently on their holidays and facing a significant nightmare in order to get home.
The liquidation has instantly ended the employment of its 22,000 global staff, around 9,000 of which were based in the UK. The coming days will therefore see a mass repatriation effort to rebook flights and get our stranded, pink-bodied countryfolk home. The Civil Aviation Authority has set up a helpline – and a subdomain – and the government is chartering flights and using planes from other airlines to bring home as many as 14,000 travellers who were booked on axed Thomas Cook flights scheduled to land in the UK today.
It all has a bit of a wartime ring to it, with the CAA reporting that its first "repatriation flight" left the US this morning, with 300 Thomas Cook exiles onboard. This is where that bit of the advert that hurriedly says "ATOL protected" comes in handy, as anyone on a package deal should have the cost of their rebooked journeys home covered.
The boss has had to say he's sorry and everything, with chief exec Peter Fankhauser saying: "I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners who have supported us for many years. 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." [Thomas Cook via BBC]