After a very poor year, 178-year-old British tour operator Thomas Cook collapsed Sunday night, stranding hundreds of thousands of travelers all around the world.
Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook's chief executive, apologized to customers, employees, suppliers and partners.
The collapse of an iconic UK company is having ripple effects in Asia. Shares in China's firm Fosun Tourism dropped more than 5% in morning trade in Hong Kong.
In a statement, the authority said there are "more than 150,000 Thomas Cook customers abroad" making for a logistics and travel nightmare.
It said the government has asked it to launch a repatriation program, which would return Thomas Cook customers to the United Kingdom, from September 23 - October 6.
"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," it said.
"Customers currently overseas should not travel to the airport until their flight back to the UK has been confirmed on the dedicated website," it said.
INFORMATION FOR TRAVELLERS BOOKED WITH THOMAS COOK:
Customers already abroad
If you are currently abroad and your flight was with Thomas Cook they are providing new flights to return you to the UK. These repatriation flights will only be operating for the next two weeks (until 6 October 2019). After this date you will have to make your own travel arrangements. From a small number of locations, passengers will have to book their own return flights.
For further advice and details of your return journey please read I am currently abroad.
Please note that repatriation flights are only available for passengers whose journey originated in the UK.
If you are currently abroad and due to return to the UK after 6 October 2019, please read the additional information section.
If you are ATOL-protected and are having difficulties with your hotel, please read managing difficulties with accommodation.
PLEASE NOTE: Some of Thomas Cook's package holiday bookings include flights with airlines unrelated to the Thomas Cook Group. If your return flight is not with Thomas Cook's airline, it will still be valid. However other elements of the package, such as accommodation and transfers will be affected.
Customers yet to travel out of the UK
All future holidays and flights booked with Thomas Cook are cancelled as of 23 September 2019.
If you are booked on a Thomas Cook Airlines flight, please do not go to your UK airport, as your flight will not be operating. The Civil Aviation Authority’s repatriation programme will not include any outbound flights from the UK.
If you choose to book a new flight with another airline out of the UK, you will not be eligible for a repatriation flight.
PLEASE NOTE: Some of Thomas Cook's package holiday bookings include flights with airlines unrelated to the Thomas Cook Group. If your return flight is not with Thomas Cook's airline it may still be valid. However other elements of the package, such as accommodation and transfers might be affected.
Customers with a Future Booking
As of 23 September 2019 most holidays and flights booked with Thomas Cook are now cancelled and customers should not go to the airport.
If your Thomas Cook flights are ATOL protected by Thomas Cook or any company in the Thomas Cook Group your flights are now cancelled. You should make a claim for a refund via the ATOL scheme.
If your Thomas Cook flights are not ATOL protected, your flights are now cancelled and you are not entitled to make a claim via the ATOL scheme, but you may be able to claim from your travel insurer or your credit card issuer or bank.
If, however, you booked an ATOL-protected holiday with Thomas Cook but your flights are with an airline unrelated to the Thomas Cook Group, your flights may still be available, but your accommodation and transfers may not be. For more information see below.
Am I ATOL protected?
If your flight or holiday is ATOL protected, you should have received an ATOL Certificate as soon as you made any payment towards the booking, either by e-mail or by post.
ATOL is a financial protection scheme and primarily protects consumers buying air travel that departs from UK.
We advise you to check your booking documents to check whether you received one.
If the company stated on your ATOL certificate is not part of the Thomas Cook Group you should contact that company directly to seek advice on your booking.
ATOL & The Importance of Travel Insurance
ATOL is designed to protect the traveller but it is often a clumsy, frustrating beast which gives little to no confidence in most travellers. When unexpected things happen like flight cancellations such as with Thomas Cook, you will eventually get your money back for the flight but it will not pay for out of pocket expenses like accommodation, food and transportation.
You may be stuck for four days without any help before being flown home and without travel insurance, you are paying a lot of money out of pocket. Also, think of your pre-booked excursions, concert and event tickets you will not be attending. You will still have to pay for those.
In an Emergency, the best travel insurance company we have found is World Nomads. They act fast, and without the bureaucracy. They are trusted by millions of travellers world wide and have an absolute stellar record when it comes to helping stranded tourists.
For an instant quote on Travel Insurance just fill in the form below:
Holidaymakers Kept Inside Tunisia Hotel Over Unpaid Bill Fears
Guests at the Orangers hotel in the coastal town of Hammamet spoke of being locked inside their resort on Saturday until a 6,000 Tunisian dinar (£1,680) fee was paid before they were allowed to leave for their flight, or even to visit a shop, or get food or water.
Those buses that arrived to transport holidaymakers to the airport at Enfidha were turned away by armed security, Orangers guests told reporters.
Thomas Cook customers Maddie Clamp, 26, and her boyfriend, Shaun Holmes, 30, from Derby described how they had been locked within their holiday complex as management, apparently wrong-footed by the news of the travel giant’s financial troubles, tried to secure payment from their guests.
“They wouldn’t even let us out of the hotel,” Holmes said. “The Thomas Cook rep said he’d contacted the chief of police.”
UPDATE: The situation of Thomas Cook Hostages has been resolved and the guests have been allowed to leave for the airport.