150K BRITS LEFT STRANDED ABROAD
ALL TC BOOKINGS, HOLIDAYS AND FLIGHTS NOW CANCELLED
TOURISTS HELD AS HOSTAGES IN TUNISIAN HOTEL
22,000 STAFF LOSE JOBS, 9K IN UK
FIRM ‘FAILED’ TO FIND £200m TO SURVIVE
COOKED BOSS SNEAKS OUT BACKDOOR OF CITY HQ
BRITAIN’S biggest holiday firm, Thomas Cook has gone bust and has ceased trading leaving thousands of holidaymakers stranded abroad and thousands of staff in limbo.
Last night, crucial talks with the companies creditors and lenders aimed to stop the firm going bust failed as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Government kickstarted the ‘biggest peacetime repatriation’ of British nationals abroad, but a state bailout of the firm will not happen, say sources.
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement: “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. Visit: thomascook.caa.co.uk”
Aircraft are already in the air to key destinations ready to fly Brits stranded abroad back to the UK.
Unions who represent Thomas Cook’s staff have urged the Government to intervene, that is, however looking unlikely.
Boris’ Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has assured the firm’s worried customers that they will be brought back to the UK safely and that contingency plans were in place.
Brian Strutton – who is the general secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association said: “Thomas Cook staff are going through hell as their livelihoods are put on the line; they have no idea if they will wake up tomorrow with a job or not.
“Their dignity in carrying on working for Thomas Cook customers under this pressure is a credit to them.”
Thomas Cook Group chief executive Dr Peter Fankhauser remained tight-lipped as he emerged from a day-long meeting on Sunday after negotiating with creditors in a final bid to save the firm that failed.
He refused to say anything to hardworking Thomas Cook’s customers as he slithered out of the backdoor of City law firm Latham & Watkins, in central London.
The travel company needed to find a whopping £200 million in extra funds, with the jobs of 22,000 staff worldwide at stake, including 9,000 in the UK.
Thomas Cook told its customers on Sunday that their flights and holidays are operating as normal and that “we are working on recapitalisation plans” – despite knowing the plans would fail.
‘LEFT IN LIMBO’
But many, including couples planning to get married abroad, were left in limbo, not knowing whether their holidays will still go ahead.
Lorna Clark, 33, and her fiance, Paul Ruckledge, who is in his 40s, are due to fly from Manchester to Paphos, Cyprus on September 30.
Ms Clark’s sister-in-law Sarah Cooper, 35, said: “She’s just in an absolute panic. There’s nothing we can do until we find out for definite if they’ve gone bust. It’s just horrendous really.”
Thomas Cook said it would not be sending any more tourists to the Les Orangers beach resort in the town of Hammamet, near Tunis, after complaints the hotel was refusing to let guests leave while demanding extra money.
TOURISTS ‘HELD’ AS HOSTAGES
Ryan Farmer, from Leicestershire, told BBC Radio Five’s Stephen Nolan the hotel had on Saturday afternoon summoned all guests who were due to leave to go to reception “to pay additional fees, obviously because of the situation with Thomas Cook”.
With many tourists refusing to pay on the grounds they had already paid, security guards were keeping the hotel’s gates shut, refusing to allow guests out, or let new visitors enter.
“We can’t leave the hotel. I’d describe it as exactly the same as being held hostage,” Mr Farmer said.
Thomas Cook told one customer on Twitter: “A small number of customers were asked to pay for their hotel room before leaving Les Orangers in Tunisia yesterday, we have refunded those customers who paid on their credit cards.”
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It is understood that Thomas Cook has approached the Government in an attempt to plug a gap in its funding.
A Government spokesman said: “We recognise it’s a worrying time for holidaymakers and employees.
“The financial circumstances of individual businesses are a commercial matter, but the Government and the Civil Aviation Authority are monitoring the situation closely.”Unite accused the Government of leaving workers and customers “high and dry” while landing taxpayers with a bill for hundreds of millions of pounds.
Unite represents nearly 3,000 cabin crew and engineers at Thomas Cook’s airline.
General secretary Len McCluskey said: “News of the needless collapse of Thomas Cook is devastating for the workforce and customers. Thomas Cook Airlines was a profitable and viable operation with a loyal workforce.”
“Unite will be meeting the administrator and giving our members maximum support while working to match Thomas Cook Airline workers with other airlines that have vacancies.
“Unite will also be launching legal action on behalf of our members over a failure to consult on the redundancies that have resulted from the firm’s collapse.”
Additional reporting courtesy of PA