Kuoni boss Derek Jones has hailed his team’s “round-the-clock” efforts to help repatriate some 2,000 customers from more than 70 destinations “in just a few days”.
The operator confirmed on Thursday (2 April) its last overseas customer had arrived home safely at Heathrow from the Philippines.
Kuoni said staff faced a race against time to get people home as flights were cancelled and borders closed at short notice during the two-week operation, which extended to many far-flung destinations including Costa Rica, Tanzania, Mexico and New Zealand.
Teams were re-organised to best take on the task, liaising directly with stranded customers, airlines, transfer companies and ground contacts.
Jones, chief executive of Kuoni parent Der Touristik UK, said: “I have to pay tribute to our team who have been outstanding, working around the clock to undertake a task to bring every single customer back to the UK, which at the start of this year we never ever thought we’d have to do.
“For the first time in the company’s history, we now have no customers overseas, which would have been unthinkable just a few weeks ago. Our attention is now firmly on customers who have future bookings and need help to reshape their holiday plans, making sure if they can no longer travel as planned they are offered the best possible alternative.
“A ray of light has been some of the amazing comments we’ve had from customers, who were understandably worried and stranded, some in difficult circumstances, but their appreciation and support has been heartening. We’ve pulled out all the stops, and I couldn’t be prouder of the team right now.”