600,000 Thomas Cook travellers left stuck in 18 countries; 4,500 holidaymakers in the North affected

600,000 Thomas Cook travellers left stuck in 18 countries; 4,500 holidaymakers in the North affected
Pictures: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

600,000 Thomas Cook travellers left stuck in 18 countries; 4,500 holidaymakers in the North affected

Update 7pm: The Irish Travel Agents Association has said that they have received reports of a "minimal number" of Irish holiday makes being affected by Thomas Cook collapse.

The airline does not operate any flights from Ireland, but "around a dozen Thomas Cook flights have been leaving from Belfast each week over the summer and many Irish people from the north could be affected."

Less than 50 people in Ireland were affected however, 4,500 holidaymakers in the North have been left stranded.

ITAA said that the Commission for Aviation Regulation in Ireland is continuing to monitor the situation.

It is advising any holidaymakers affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook to contact the travel agent they booked their holiday with or the UK Foreign Office.

For those overseas the contact number is +44 (0) 1753 330 330 and for anyone in the UK 0300 303 2800.

The UK has begun it's largest peacetime repatriation with some 150,000 tourists are being brought home over the next two weeks in a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) flight programme costing £100m (€113m).

Forty-five aircraft from as far away as Malaysia have been chartered to operate approximately 1,000 flights from 53 airports in 18 countries over the next two weeks.

The first rescue flight touched down at Gatwick from Split, Croatia, shortly before midday today.

Around 15,000 passengers were expected to travel on 61 flights on Monday.

Thousands of holidaymakers are coming to terms with upcoming trips abroad being cancelled following the collapse, with some set to miss holidays of a lifetime, weddings and honeymoons.

The numbers behind the Thomas Cook collapse:

  • All of the travel company’s flights have been cancelled – that means the 105 aircraft it operates have been grounded.
  • There are 600,000 Thomas Cook travellers who have been left stuck at 53 destinations in 18 countries.
  • More than 150,000 of those are British people
  • The airlift is almost twice the size of the repatriation effort required when Monarch went bust in October 2017.
  • Around 1,000 repatriation flights will be operated to the UK.
  • The final cost of the programme is expected to be around £100m (€113m).
  • Forty charter planes have been brought in from as far afield as Malaysia to assist with the mass airlift.
  • Only holidaymakers with return flights booked within the next two weeks, between Monday and Sunday October 6, will qualify for a free flight home, as close as possible to their original return date.
  • On Monday September 30, one week into the repatriation process, the CAA will launch a service which will seek to process all refunds within 60 days of full information being received. Further details will be given at thomascook.caa.co.uk.

Update 1.55pm: 4,500 holidaymakers in the North have been left stranded following the collapse of Thomas Cook.

Less than 50 people from the south of Ireland have been affected after the British travel agent went bust.

The company's chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, has apologised to customers and staff saying they fought hard to make the company successful.

"I want to apologise to my 21,000 colleagues who I know will be heartbroken," said Mr Fankhauser.

You all fought so hard to make Thomas Cook a success.

"Secondly, I would like to say sorry to all our customers."

Pat Dawson, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association is advising customers who were planning to travel with Thomas Cook to go back to their travel agent.

"Speaking to our members, particularly around the border areas, the number is probably down to less than 50 at this stage that are affected," said Mr Dawson.

"In the north of Ireland it is about 4,500 and of course we have to think of the fact that Thomas Cook have a number of retail shops which are now closed."

- Digital Desk

Around 2,500 Irish people impacted by collapse of Thomas Cook

Update 10.15am: 600,000 tourists have been left stranded around the world following the collapse of Thomas Cook.

The British travel agent has ceased trading after failing to reach a deal with creditors.

It is estimated 2,500 Irish people are impacted.

Thomas Cook operates 8 routes out of Belfast

The travel agent has 15 shops across Northern Ireland.

A Ballymena man has told of how security staff at a hotel in Tunisia tried to stop customers from leaving the hotel when the Thomas Cook travel company collapsed.

Paul Dunn told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that the owner of the hotel told customers due to fly to Manchester that they could not leave because Thomas Cook owed them money.

It was like a Mexican stand off. Hotel management said ‘we’re not letting you go.’ People were being billed for double what they had already paid Thomas Cook.

“People were getting angry with the Thomas Cook rep. There was a mob mentality.”

Mr Dunne told of how a number of people suggested “storming the gate” to get out of the hotel to get their bus to the airport which was waiting outside.

Hotel management cut off WiFi while the travel company’s representative tried to “calm folk down.” In the meantime the British embassy made the necessary payment so the people due to fly home to Manchester were allowed to leave, added Mr Dunn.

“We were told that everything was fine and to enjoy the rest of our holiday and it would be ok when we were to fly home.”

Mr Dunn was adamant that he would not be paying any bills given to him by the hotel. “There’s not a chance.”

He is due to fly home on Wednesday.

Additional reporting by Digital Desk

Thomas Cook ceases trading and leaves tens of thousands in travel limbo

Update 7am: Travel giant Thomas Cook has ceased trading after failing to secure a last-ditch rescue deal, leaving an estimated 150,000 Britons abroad awaiting repatriation.

The company was unable to secure the extra £200 million needed to keep the business afloat following a full day of crucial talks with the major shareholder and creditors on Sunday.

600,000 Thomas Cook travellers left stuck in 18 countries; 4,500 holidaymakers in the North affected

Richard Moriarty, the chief executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said the Government had asked his organisation to launch “the UK’s largest ever peacetime repatriation”.

In a statement, the CAA said: “Thomas Cook Group, including the UK tour operator and airline, has ceased trading with immediate effect.

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

Thomas Cook’s chief executive Peter Fankhauser said his company had “worked exhaustively” to salvage a rescue package.

“Although a deal had been largely agreed, an additional facility requested in the last few days of negotiations presented a challenge that ultimately proved insurmountable,” he added.

“It is a matter of profound regret to me and the rest of the board that we were not successful.

“I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners who have supported us for many years.

“This marks a deeply sad day for the company which pioneered package holidays and made travel possible for millions of people around the world.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to help holidaymakers stranded by the firm’s closure, as he questioned whether bosses are not incentivised to prevent their business’s demise.

Mr Johnson told reporters on board the RAF Voyager travelling to New York for the United Nations General Assembly that his thoughts were with customers.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to assist stranded Thomas Cook tourists (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to assist stranded Thomas Cook tourists (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

He said: “It’s a very difficult situation and obviously our thoughts are very much with the customers with Thomas Cook, the holiday makers, who may now face difficulties getting home.”

“One way or the other the state will have to step in quite rightly to help stranded holidaymakers.”

British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said dozens of charter planes, from as far afield as Malaysia, had been hired to fly customers home free of charge and hundreds of people were working in call centres and at airports.

Mr Shapps said: “Thomas Cook’s collapse is very sad news for staff and holidaymakers.

“The Government and UK CAA is working round the clock to help people.

“But the task is enormous, the biggest peacetime repatriation in UK history. So there are bound to be problems and delays.

“Please try to be understanding with the staff who are trying to assist in what is likely to be a very difficult time for them as well.”

The CAA’s dedicated website for the firm’s customers, thomascook.caa.co.uk, crashed shortly after the announcement.

The UK Department for Transport (DfT) said all customers currently abroad with Thomas Cook who are booked to return to the UK over the next two weeks will be brought home as close as possible to their booked return date.

Thomas Cook package holiday customers will also see the cost of their accommodation covered by the Government, through the Air Travel Trust Fund or Atol scheme, the DfT said.

Unions representing Thomas Cook staff, of which there are 9,000 across the group in the UK, had previously urged the Government to intervene financially.

It is a matter of profound regret to me and the rest of the board that we were not successful

A million customers will also lose their future bookings, although with most package holidays and some flights-only trips being protected by the Atol scheme, customers who have not yet left home will be given a refund or replacement holiday.

For those on holiday, the scheme will make sure they can finish their holiday and return home.

One of the world’s oldest and largest travel companies, the firm had been trading for 178 years – having been established in 1841 by a cabinet maker who organised a day trip for temperance movement supporters.

According to its website, as of this year the group employed 21,000 people in 16 countries, operated 105 aircraft and 200 own-brand hotels and resorts.

- Press Association

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