UK's Thomas Cook goes bankrupt, thousands of tourists stranded

Oldest travel firm in rescue talks

Oldest travel firm in rescue talks

"Thomas Cook has ceased trading so all Thomas Cook flights are now canceled", it added.

The British government said the return of the firm's 150,000 British customers now overseas would be the largest repatriation in its peacetime history.

The number of stranded passengers is nearly twice the number involved in the previous biggest peacetime repatriation program after the 2017 collapse of Monarch Airlines.

The UK's Civil Aviation Authority said the world's oldest travel agency had now ceased trading after 178 years in business, as frantic efforts began to repatriate holidaymakers.

An official from Germany said under that country's rules, it would fall to insurance companies to help get customers home.

The emergency operation codenamed Operation Matterhorn will aim to bring home around 150,000 British people now on holiday with the firm.

" The nature and scale of the operation means that unfortunately some disruption will be inevitable".

The Guardian newspaper reported that it understood airlines including British Airways and easyJet would be involved in the airlift.

How will people be brought home?

"The task is enormous, the biggest peacetime repatriation in United Kingdom history". The high volume of traffic on the website meant it had crashed at the time this story had published.

A source close to the negotiations told AFP on Saturday that the company had failed to find the £200 million from private investors and would collapse unless the government intervened.

The money required would be a "seasonal stand-by facility" and come on top of the 900 million pounds of new capital already raised, the company said.

Thomas Cook Group's chief executive remained tight-lipped as he emerged from a day-long meeting today after negotiating with creditors in a final bid to save the firm.

"It is a matter of profound regret to me and the rest of the board that we were not successful", he said. "I would like to apologize to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners".

Thomas Cook said it had refunded customers who paid by credit card and said guests who had booked at the Les Orangers would be diverted elsewhere. The carrier also said that, for now, flights will remain operational.

The demise of Thomas Cook marks the end of one of Britain's oldest companies that started life in 1841 running local rail excursions before it survived two world wars to pioneer package holidays first in Europe and then further afield.