Thousands of Thomas Cook customers flown home amid anger over directors’ pay

There has been confusion in holiday resorts following the collapse of travel giant Thomas Cook yesterday.

Thousands of Thomas Cook customers flown home amid anger over directors’ pay

There has been confusion in holiday resorts following the collapse of travel giant Thomas Cook yesterday.

The UK's Civil Aviation Authority is continuing to fly tens of thousands of people abroad back to the UK.

The first flight of people being repatriated back to Northern Ireland arrived in Belfast International Airport last night from Turkey.

A County Antrim woman has told of how she had to pay an extra £500 so she and her husband could go on holiday despite the collapse of the Thomas Cook travel company.

Andrea McCormack from Ballycastle became aware of the problem with the holiday early on Monday morning so she called to the Thomas Cook office in Coleraine, but found it closed.

“We have a daughter with special needs and she is in respite care so we can go on holiday to get a break,” Ms McCormack told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

“We came over to Coleraine to look for someone to speak to, but the shutters were down.

“We went into Tui, which was next door, and the woman asked us who we were flying with. I said that we booked with Thomas Cook, but we were flying with Easy Jet.

"She said those would still be valid, but you’re accommodation won’t be.”

The McCormacks then booked new accommodation through the Tui travel company.

They changed us to Santa Ponsa from Alcudia which would have been our first choice. We had to pay another £500 so we can get away as carers for one week.

On the same programme other holiday makers from Northern Ireland, who returned from their holidays on Monday on special flights, told of the great work of representatives for Thomas Cook at the resorts overseas who assisted them in their departure.

“Even though they had lost their job they were wonderful,” said one woman.

Thousands more stranded Thomas Cook passengers will be repatriated today as the rescue operation continues.

Around 15,000 holidaymakers were flown home on an estimated 61 flights yesterday.

Some 150,000 tourists will be brought home over the next two weeks in a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) flight programme costing £100 million (€113m).

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

Questions have been raised over the multimillion pound sums received by the bosses of the firm prior to its collapse.

Yesterday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson questioned whether directors should pay themselves "large sums of money" as their businesses go "down the tubes".

Speaking to reporters in New York, he said: "How can we make sure that tour operators take proper precautions with their business models where you don't end up with a situation where the taxpayer, the state, is having to step in and bring people home?"

Liquidators will now see if any money can be found within more than 25 Thomas Cook companies to hand back to staff and creditors.

The travel agent had about 550 high street locations across the UK, however, it leased its planes, rented its shops and acted as a broker with third-party hotels and cruise ships, meaning it has minimal assets.

Some staff on the final Thomas Cook journeys on Monday evening were informed mid-flight that they had been made redundant effective immediately.

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However, other companies have stepped forward with offers of interview or work in an attempt to reach out to redundant staff.

Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet have both asked former Thomas Cook employees to register their interest for work opportunities, and Great Western Railway (GWR) and London North Eastern Railway (LNER) have both said they are looking for staff.

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

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

- Additional reporting by Press Association

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