Thomas Cook Group ceased trading after 178 years on Monday (23 September) and has entered liquidation.
It comes after the operator was unable to find additional funding to secure a rescue deal over the weekend, despite several days of fevered negotiation.
More than 150,000 Cook passengers are understood to be overseas requiring repatriation, significantly more than the number left stranded by the collapse of Monarch in October 2017.
The CAA has launched the UK’s largest peacetime repatriation mission, codenamed Operation Matterhorn.
Cook, founded in 1841, pioneered escorted touring and was a key driver of the package holiday boom.
When it collapsed, the group was operating in 15 markets serving more than 20 million customers and employing 22,000 people – 9,000 in the UK.
Here is everything we know so far about the collapse of the UK’s oldest travel seller:
Tui has pledged to host a recruitment fair to help Thomas Cook staff who lost their jobs following the company’s collapse, while a number of other travel companies have encouraged former Cook staff to get in touch.
The event will take place at Tui’s Luton headquarters, with details of a date and timings to be issued on Tuesday (24 September).
Travel Counsellors, Holidaysplease, Kosmar Holidays, Love to Travel and ItSo Travel have all made similar pledges.
Travel lawyer Farina Azam, partner and travel lead at digital law firm Kemp Little, said before the news of Thomas Cook's demise can be allowed to sink in, and before the sector takes stock, travel needs to deal with its obligations to customers.
"The failure of Thomas Cook will have incredibly far reaching consequences for the travel industry, particularly those who have sold Thomas Cook holidays or flights as a retail agent, or included Thomas Cook flights (or other services) within their own packages," said Azam.
Her advice spans those with flight-inclusive packages; non-flight packages; flight-only bookings with Thomas Cook Airlines; and bookings with agents or operators who have packaged up Thomas Cook flights.
Thomas Cook ploughed on with its own legacy model for too long; sadly, a 178-year history counts for nothing if you don’t prepare for the future, writes Gary Noakes.
"The old formula of mass market tour operation, airline and retail network no longer works if it’s just offering a product that’s easily self-booked elsewhere and too similar to competitors’ products with much higher overheads.
"Cook joins the other 31 retail brands that have collapsed or gone into administration this year. Some, like Cook, are names you grew up with and thought would never disappear from the high street.
"Cook’s collapse is a tragedy for the industry and there will be a domino effect for suppliers, but given recent history, it was a brutal correction of an industry model waiting to happen."
Business secretary Andrea Leadsom has pledged to set up a cross-government taskforce to assist Thomas Cook staff after the historic operator collapsed into liquidation on Monday (23 September) after 178 years.
Leadsom said the government recognised the situation was a “hugely worrying” time for Cook staff, and stressed she would instruct the Insolvency Service to fast-track its investigation into the collapse of Thomas Cook – including the conduct of the company’s directors.
“I will also be writing to the Insolvency Service to ask them to prioritise and fast-track their investigation into the circumstances surrounding Thomas Cook going into liquidation," Leadsom added.
Dozens of travel industry leaders have spoken of their sadness and fond memories following the collapse of Thomas Cook, and urged the sector to come together in the spirit of co-operation to assist passengers and employees.
Social media was awash with messages of condolence and support during the early hours of Monday morning (23 September) after news broke at 2am of the iconic travel brand’s failure after 178 years in business.
Among those to pledge their backing were Lisa McAuley, managing director B2B tour operations dnata Travel Europe; Richard Dixon, director of Holidaysplease; and Jo Rzymowska, managing director UK, Ireland and Asia Pacific at Celebrity Cruises.
Abta has issued comprehensive advice for agents and its members following the collapse of Thomas Cook on Monday morning (23 September).
Chief executive Mark Tanzer said he was “extremely saddened” by the failure, which he confirmed would result in the loss of thousands of jobs.
“For Abta members, customers and industry colleagues, this will be an extremely worrying time,” Tanzer also acknowledged.
Abta’s full advice to members is available here.
OTA On the Beach has warned it faces a “one-off exceptional cost” arising from the failure of Thomas Cook.
In a trading update, the OTA said it was “evaluating the potential effects” of Cook’s failure on the business’s full-year performance.
“The board anticipates there will be a one-off exceptional cost associated with helping customers to organise alternative travel arrangements, and lost margin on cancelled bookings."
The business added it is assisting customers currently in resort and whose travel plans will be affected by Cook’s collapse.
Thomas Cook boss Peter Fankhauser has apologised to the operator's legion of industry suppliers and partners who he said “now face difficult financial decisions of their own”.
In his first public appearance since it was confirmed the company collapsed on Monday morning, Fankhauser said he wanted to say sorry to “the many thousands of hoteliers and suppliers who have stuck by our business in good times and in bad”.
Fankhauser added he found it “deeply distressing” it had not been possible to save “one of the most loved brands in travel”.
Chief executive of Thomas Cook Peter Fankhauser has written to the operator's staff thanking them for their efforts amid the turmoil that has beset the company for several months.
In an email to employees, Fankhauser said the failure of the historic travel operator came despite "fierce negotiation” over the weekend to maintain operations.
“It is with a heavy heart that I write this message to you,” wrote Fankhauser. “I deeply regret to inform you that after many months of fierce negotiation we have failed to find the support required for the continued future of the Thomas Cook Group.
“I know you will find this incredibly difficult to digest – as I do. However, I want you to know that the team and I explored every avenue and beyond to save this business.
“I am so proud of everything you have done to keep our customers at the heart of everything we do; your dedication and expertise is the reason why Thomas Cook will always be one of the best loved brands in travel."
The CAA has published comprehensive guidance for Cook customers affected by the company's collapse into liquidation this morning.
The government and the CAA are now working together to repatriate all customers due to fly back to the UK with Thomas Cook between 23 September and 6 October.
Depending on the clients; location, this will be either on CAA-operated flights or by using existing flights with other airlines.
Those due to depart from a UK airport with Thomas Cook Airlines should not travel to the airport as the flight will not be operating.
“This repatriation is hugely complex, and we are working around the clock to support passengers,” said the CAA.
The CAA has launched the UK's largest peacetime repatriation effort, Operation Matterhorn.
The authority has been courting airlines for several weeks to pull together the capacity required to fly home more than 150,000 Cook passengers stranded overseas – “regardless of their Atol cover”.
Operation Matterhorn will comprise a significantly larger effort than it took to repatriate Monarch passengers after the airline collapsed in October 2017.
The CAA said the government had asked it to conduct the repatriation programme over the next two weeks, from Monday 23 September to Sunday 6 October.
It is not yet known what the impact will be on the Air Travel Trust – or “Atol” – Fund, or the full cost to the taxpayer. It is estimated the Monarch repatriation cost around £60 million.
Thomas Cook Group has ceased operations after 178 years, leaving more than 150,000 passengers stranded overseas.
Cook, Britain's oldest travel company dating to 1841, has entered liquidation. All bookings – flights and holidays – have been cancelled.
The business employed around 22,000 people group wide, 9,000 in the UK. All subsidiaries and divisional arms of the group have also ceased operating.