The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) completed 64 flights yesterday, bringing 14,700 people back to the UK, with a further 16,800 expected to be brought back on 74 flights today. Another 135,000 are still stranded.
Dame Deirdre Hutton, chairman of the CAA, said the repatriation operation of Thomas Cook customers had got off to a ‘reasonable start’.
She told BBC Breakfast: ‘It's a two-week operation, that's mainly because people go on holiday for two weeks, so we want everybody to continue to enjoy their holidays and we'll bring them back on the day they were going to come back anyway.’
She added: ‘I'm really pleased that the first day went well, we got back 95% of those we were intending.
‘There were some operational difficulties and we'll continue to have that ... there'll be some bumps in the road and if people could bear with us, but we have got off to a reasonable start which is very good.’
She went on: ‘There's nobody abroad who should have been home. We're bringing people back when their holiday ends, so we've got another 135,000 people to bring....We've done eight per cent so far, we've got 13 days to go, so it's still a big operation.’
Asked about reports customers were being charged by their hotel again, Dame Deirdre said: ‘There is some confusion in hotels, it's always been one of the more difficult areas. If he's having difficulty he should ring the call centre. Every hotel that has an ATOL-protected passenger in it has had a letter from us guaranteeing the payment to the hotel."
She estimated the cost of the operation could run to £100m.
She added: ‘The passengers are 60 per cent ATOL protected, so 60 per cent of that will come through the fund that builds up from the ATOL system, so the taxpayer will end up by paying, I guess, about 40 per cent of it.’
The CAA she said would ‘absolutely co-operate’ with any investigation, adding Thomas Cook was operating on a ‘rather old-fashioned’ model.
Customers are urged to check thomascook.caa.co.uk for further information.