Thomas Cook staff 'absolutely heartbroken' over company collapse as 150,000 left stranded

23 September 2019, 07:15 | Updated: 23 September 2019, 16:28

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Employees of travel firm Thomas Cook say they are "absolutely heartbroken" over losing their jobs after the company's collapse.

The tour operator ceased trading with immediate effect in the early hours of Monday morning after failing in a final bid to secure a rescue package from creditors.

It left employees of the firm sharing their upset on social media, including Charlotte Richardson, who said she was "absolutely heartbroken".

"I honestly don't know what to say, think or feel," she wrote on Twitter alongside pictures of herself in the company's uniform.

"I've had the best two years at Thomas Cook and the company has brought the happiness I've always looked for."

Ms Richardson went on to ask other social media users to be aware of "of those staff with mental health problems who may be in a bit of need in this time..."

She added: "It is an awfully stressful time for everyone involved."

Meanwhile, more than 150,000 British holidaymakers are currently abroad and will need to be repatriated as a result of the 178-year-old firm's collapse, the Civil Aviation Authority has said.

One angry customer in Cardiff told Global's Newsroom she had paid £2,000 for her first-ever holiday and if she didn't get a refund she would "go off."

The CAA said in a statement: "All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled. There are currently more than 150,000 Thomas Cook customers abroad, almost twice the number that were repatriated following the failure of Monarch.

"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."

The collapse has prompted the country's biggest ever peacetime repatriation to bring an estimated 150,000 British customers, already on holiday, back home.
The collapse has prompted the country's biggest ever peacetime repatriation to bring an estimated 150,000 British customers, already on holiday, back home. Picture: PA

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the Government and CAA has hired dozens of charter planes to fly customers home free of charge.

In a statement, the 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.

An information leaflet handed out to customer
An information leaflet handed out to customer. Picture: Global's Newsroom

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.

"Our contingency planning has helped acquire planes from across the world - some from as far away as Malaysia - and we have put hundreds of people in call centres and at airports.

"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."

This couple were on their way back from their honeymoon in Florida, they were on the last every Thomas Cook flight back into Manchester.

The group's four airlines will be grounded and its 21,000 employees in 16 countries, including 9,000 in the UK, will be left unemployed.

The company also operated around 600 UK high street stores.

For more information on Operation Matterhorn, the UK government's plan to get stranded tourists home, click here.

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