After 178 years, Thomas Cook has closed its doors.
A terse message on the travel company’s web site informed travellers that:
“Thomas Cook UK Plc and associated UK entities have entered Compulsory Liquidation and are now under the control of the Official Receiver. The UK business has ceased trading with immediate effect and all future flights and holidays are cancelled. A dedicated support service is being provided by The Civil Aviation Authority to assist customers currently overseas and those in the UK with future bookings.”
On a special web site, the UK Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that Thomas Cook Group, including the UK tour operator and airline, has ceased trading with immediate effect.
It said that all Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled, advising that there are currently over 150,000 Thomas Cook customers abroad — almost twice the number that were repatriated following the failure of Monarch Airlines in 2017.
The UK CAA said: “We know that a company with such long-standing history ceasing trading will be very distressing for its customers and employees and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this news.”
Its statement continued: “The Government has asked the UK Civil Aviation Authority to launch a repatriation program over the next two weeks, from Mon. Sept. 23 to Sun. Oct. 6, to bring Thomas Cook customers back to the UK. Due to the unprecedented number of UK customers currently overseas who are affected by the situation, the Civil Aviation Authority has secured a fleet of aircraft from around the world to bring passengers back to the UK with return flights.”
And it noted that: “Passengers in a small number of destinations may return on alternative commercial flights, rather than directly through the Civil Aviation Authority’s flying program. Details and advice for these passengers are available on the dedicated website.”
The Civil Aviation Authority has launched a special website, www.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.
The CAA pointed out that: “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. This will apply to both ATOL protected passengers and those who are not protected.”
As well, it advised that: “Customers currently overseas should not travel to the airport until their flight back to the UK has been confirmed on the dedicated website. Thomas Cook customers in the UK yet to travel should not go to the airport as all flights leaving the UK have been cancelled.”
Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, commented: “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,” Moriarty said and continued: “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,” he said.
And he added: “We urge anyone affected by this news to check our dedicated website, https://thomascook.caa.co.uk/ for advice and information.”