Thomas Cook Group has collapsed into liquidation after 178 years in operation.
The company on Friday acknowledged a request from its lenders to raise an additional £200 million necessary to secure a rescue deal, led by its largest shareholder.
But after a crunch meeting in the City over the weekend, the CAA confirmed the company’s failure at around 2am today (23 September).
The collapse of the group includes the UK tour operator and the airline. AlixPartners and KPMG have been appointed as special managers to oversee the liquidation.
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.
A pioneer of escorted tours and package holidays, Thomas Cook had developed across 15 markets, serving more than 20 million customers and employing 22,000 people per year – 9,000 in the UK.
The government has asked the CAA to launch a repatriation programme over the next two weeks, from Monday 23 September to Sunday 6 October, to bring Thomas Cook customers back to the UK.
The CAA added “due to the unprecedented number of UK customers currently overseas who are affected by the situation”, it had secured a fleet of aircraft from around the world to bring passengers back to the UK with return flights.
Passengers in a small number of destinations may return on alternative commercial flights, rather than directly through the CAA’s flying programme. Details and advice for these passengers are available on the dedicated website.
Thomas Cook customers in the UK yet to travel should not go to the airport as all flights leaving the UK have been cancelled.
Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the CAA, said: “News of Thomas Cook’s collapse is deeply saddening for the company’s employees and customers, and we appreciate that more than 150,000 people currently abroad will be anxious about how they will now return to the UK.
“The government has asked us to support Thomas Cook customers on what is the UK’s largest ever peacetime repatriation.
“We have launched, at very short notice, what is effectively one of the UK’s largest airlines, involving a fleet of aircraft secured from around the world. The nature and scale of the operation means that unfortunately some disruption will be inevitable. We ask customers to bear with us as we work around the clock to bring them home.
“We urge anyone affected by this news to check our dedicated website, thomascook.caa.co.uk, for advice and information.”
The CAA will be providing regular updates as our flying programme develops, it said.
The company, founded by its namesake, began operations in 1841 when Cook hosted a successful trip for 500 passengers to travel 12 miles by railway from Leicester to Loughborough for a Temperance meeting.