THOMAS Cook workers have been left heartbroken after the firm collapsed – leaving 21,000 people out of a job.
Touching images show employees hugging each other in floods of tears as the UK’s oldest airline went under after 178 years.
The company’s 21,000 employees, including 9,000 in the UK, have been made redundant.
Hundreds of weeping members of staff were seen heading into headquarters in Peterborough for a 10am meeting.
The Lynch Wood offices employ around 1,000 Thomas Cook staff – with all of them now out of a job.
Some employees have been posting on social media after the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced this morning that the company had “ceased trading with immediate effect.”
One wrote: “Officially unemployed. My sunny heart is broken. Devastating end to my 3years at #ThomasCook.
“It was the best job to start my career. Met so many amazing people, learnt so many skills, got to join the best netball team and had 3 awesome holidays”.
What we know so far…
- Thomas Cook has ceased trading after failing to secure a last-ditch rescue deal
- Customers due to fly out of the UK with Thomas Cook today have been told to stay at home
- Thomas Cook planes are heading back to their UK bases and are being grounded
- As many as 9,000 British employees among 21,000 staff around the world stand to lose their jobs
- The largest peacetime repatriation of British citizens – dubbed Operation Matterhorn – will begin in the coming hours
- As many as 150,000 British holidaymakers face uncertainty over how they’ll get home
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the liquidation of Thomas Cook as a “very difficult situation” and vowed his Government would do its “level best” to get Brit holidaymakers home
- Read our Thomas Cook live blog for all the latest news and updates
Others have been praised by holidaymakers returning on the final Thomas Cook flights this morning.
Denise told Heart Midlands News she saw cabin crew in “floods of tears” as the devastating news spread on her flight to Birmingham.
A passenger one of the last flights to land at London Gatwick this morning said they felt emotional for Thomas Cook staff.
She said: “Some of the cabin crew looked like they’d had a little cry. They didn’t know at the start of the journey if they’d still have a job at the end.”
Another passenger posted a video from one of the final Thomas Cook flights to Manchester as an air stewardess urged holidaymakers to give the company a thumbs up.
The travellers could be seen yelling “good luck Thomas Cook” in the video, which was posted online with the caption: “Dedicated Thomas Cook staff on last flight so sad @GMB”.
Around 150,000 Brits’ holidays have been left in turmoil after the chain collapsed – with fears the rescue mission could take up to a fortnight.
All the travel giant’s flights to and from the UK have been cancelled, forcing the government to launch the biggest repatriation since World War Two.
THOMAS COOK GOES BUST
A rescue fleet of more than 40 jumbos will bring 150,000 stranded holidaymakers back to Britain from 51 destinations in 17 countries.
A fleet of 40 aircraft has been charted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to lead the repatriation mission – an operation twice as big as that launched two years ago when Monarch Airlines collapsed – using jets from as far away as Malaysia.
Tips for tourists
Q: I’m out of the country on a Thomas Cook holiday – what happens now?
A: The Civil Aviation Authority’s Operation Matterhorn will coordinate the repatriation of customers at the end of their holiday.
Q: I only bought Thomas Cook flights. Am I still protected?
A: No. Unfortunately, only package holiday customers are covered by the company’s Atol licence. Rival airlines may offer special rescue fares.
Q: I am on a Thomas Cook holiday and my hotel is insisting I pay them again. What do I do?
A: Refuse to pay. You have already paid Thomas Cook. The hotelier will have to apply via Atol.
Q: I have booked a Thomas Cook holiday? What happens now they’ve gone bust?
A: Anyone who has booked a package holiday is also covered by Atol and can apply to the CAA for their money back.
It is expected to last two weeks and free flights will be offered to the majority of Thomas Cook’s 150,000 passengers currently abroad.
Those travelling on “flight only” breaks would normally be expected to find and pay for their own return flights.
The 178-year-old British travel firm had until 11.59pm last night to pay the £200million it owed its creditors or else they’d go under.
Travellers expecting to board Thomas Cook planes in the UK today have been told to stay at home as ALL flights are grounded permanently.
MOST READ IN NEWS
Announcing it was ceasing trading, Thomas Cook said on its website: “All future flights and holidays are cancelled.”
The brief statement added: “A dedicated support service is being provided by The Civil Aviation Authority to assist customers overseas and those in the UK with future bookings.”
Worried customers were asked to visit www.thomascook.caa.co.uk for more information – although the site has crashed several times.