TOUR operator Thomas Cook has collapsed after last-minute talks to save the 178-year-old brand fell through.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) confirmed the company had ‘ceased trading with immediate effect’ earlier this morning.
It is now working with government on the largest ever peacetime repatriation – with more than 150,000 British holiday makers stranded.
As many as 22,000 jobs are also at risk in what Thomas Cook’s chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, called a ‘deeply distressing’ situation.
All bookings with Thomas Cook – including flights and holidays – have all been cancelled as a result of the collapse.
‘Despite huge efforts over a number of months and further intense negotiations in recent days we have not been able to secure a deal to save our business,’ Mr Fankhauser told reporters.
‘It has been my privilege to lead Thomas Cook. It is deeply distressing to me that it has not been possible to save one of the most-loved brands in travel.’
The Department for Transport said all customers overseas with Thomas Cook who are booked to return to the UK in the next fortnight with be flown back ‘as close as possible’ to their booked return date.
They will get free flights or be will be booked on to another scheduled airline at no extra cost.
These flights begin operating today.
What happens now?
Details of these flights will be updated on a dedicated website – thomascook.caa.co.uk.
For overseas calls, Thomas Cook customers have been advised to call +44 1753 330 330, or 0300 303 2800 in the UK.