Thomas Cook collapse leaves British travellers scrambling to find way home

If the firm collapses, England is facing its biggest repatriation of British citizens since World War II - some 150,000 Thomas Cook clients now traveling overseas.

Running hotels and resorts, airlines and cruises, Thomas Cook has 600,000 customers on holiday, meaning governments and insurance companies could be forced to step in and bring them home if the company goes into administration.

Thomas Cook Airlines UK employed more than 2,500 people and was operating an all-Airbus fleet of 45 planes, making it the second largest airline within the Thomas Cook Group, just behind Germany-based sister company Condor.

Thomas Cook Group - a 178 years old company and the oldest travel agency still in activity - has been in a financial struggle for years due to the emergence of online holiday booking websites.

British tour company Thomas Cook collapsed early Monday after failing to secure emergency funding, leaving tens of thousands of vacationers stranded overseas.

"We were sorry to learn that the United Kingdom tour operator and airline Thomas Cook has been placed into administration".

"We are doing all we can to get passengers home who can no longer travel on Thomas Cook services", a post from the office's Twitter account read.

"Due to the significant scale of the situation, some disruption is inevitable, but the Civil Aviation Authority will endeavour to get people home as close as possible to their planned dates", it said.

"Fosun is disappointed that Thomas Cook Group has not been able to find a viable solution for its proposed recapitalisation with other affiliates, core lending banks, senior noteholders and additional involved parties", the Chinese group said in a statement to AFP on Monday.

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It is not clear how many Dutch people still have vacations upcoming that were booked through Thomas Cook or Neckermann.

Travel journalist Eoghan Corry said that the company operated eight routes and 13 flights from Belfast and some people from south of the border would have travelled on those flights.

TUNISIA: Thomas Cook owes Tunisian hotels 60 million euros ($66 million) for stays in July and August, Tourism Minister Rene Trabelsi told Reuters on Monday, adding that 4,500 Thomas Cook customers are still in the country. "We have been together eight years and never been overseas together", she said.

All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled.

Currently, it is estimated that this leaves as many as 600,000 passengers stranded away from their homes worldwide.

Chief Executive Peter Fankhauser said it was a matter of profound regret that the company had gone out of business after it failed to secure a rescue package from its lenders in frantic talks that went through the weekend.

Thomas Cook declared bankruptcy Monday after failing to secure a last-ditch rescue deal worth $250 million from private investors to avert collapse. First pictures appeared on social media just before 1 am time, which show a detention letter on one of Thomas Cook's Airbus A321s at Manchester Airport.

The CAA statement said the authority would figure out the bill with the hotels directly, and protected travelers should not make payments to their hotel unless instructed otherwise.

"I've been here since 8am", said Fiona Redding, who was stuck at the airport in Menorca, one of Spain's Balearic islands, waiting to catch a flight back to Bristol, UK.

  • Darren Santiago