//Thomas Cook ceases trading
Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook ceases trading

Civil Aviation Authority launches flying programme to bring home Thomas Cook customers

Thomas Cook, the British travel company founded in 1841, has ceased trading after talks to try and save it ended without a deal.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issued a statement at 2am this morning saying that it would be conducting the “biggest ever peacetime repatriation” to bring back the 150,000 British holidaymakers currently abroad.

All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled. Customers who have booked Thomas Cook holidays or flights have been told not to go to the airport.

The company has about 560 stores and 9,000 staff in the UK. Overall Thomas Cook hires 20,000 people.

In a statement the CAA said: “The Civil Aviation Authority has launched a special website, thomascook.caa.co.uk, where affected customers can find details and information on repatriation flights, as well as advice on accommodation for both ATOL and non-ATOL customers. Customers currently overseas should not travel to the airport until their flight back to the UK has been confirmed on the dedicated website.

“ATOL protected passengers with future bookings are entitled to a full refund for their cancelled holiday.”

Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “News of Thomas Cook’s collapse is deeply saddening for the company’s employees and customers, and we appreciate that more than 150,000 people currently abroad will be anxious about how they will now return to the UK.

“The government has asked us to support Thomas Cook customers on what is the UK’s largest ever peacetime repatriation.

“We have launched, at very short notice, what is effectively one of the UK’s largest airlines, involving a fleet of aircraft secured from around the world. The nature and scale of the operation means that unfortunately some disruption will be inevitable. We ask customers to bear with us as we work around the clock to bring them home.

“We urge anyone affected by this news to check our dedicated website, thomascook.caa.co.uk, for advice and information.”

Mark Tanzer, ABTA CEO added: “Along with many others in the industry, I am extremely saddened by the news about the demise of Thomas Cook. It is one of the UK’s most iconic travel brands and today thousands of staff are facing losing their jobs. For ABTA Members, customers and industry colleagues, this will be an extremely worrying time. ABTA has developed detailed advice for our Members about what to do next, as well as for customers. ABTA staff will be doing all we can to manage enquiries as swiftly as possible.”

Thomas Cook Group Plc operated several businesses that sold holidays and other travel arrangements, including five companies that are ABTA Members:

· Thomas Cook Retail Limited – ABTA W8361, J8601 & ATOL 0020

· Thomas Cook Tour Operations Limited – ABTA V6896 & ATOL 1179

· TCCT Retail Limited – ABTA Y6564, L8164 & ATOL 10585

· Future Travel Limited – ABTA W6370, G856X & ATOL 5704

· Freedom Travel Group Limited – ABTA W6417, G8381 & ATOL 6042

ABTA’s immediate aim is to help Members and customers to understand what steps they need to take. We will be providing additional staff resource to help us to support Members and customers but we are expecting this to be an exceptionally busy period.

ABTA’s advice for customers is available at: www.abta.com/thomascook

The CAA has set up a 24-hour helpline for Thomas Cook customers: 0300 303 2800 from the UK and Ireland and +44 1753 330 330 from overseas

Sam Ballard is a director and co-founder of Waterfront Publishing, creator of ABTA Magazine, Cruise Adviser, Solus and more.