Nearly 15,000 Thomas Cook passengers, stranded in destination after the iconic operator collapsed on Monday (23 September), were repatriated during the first day of the UK’s largest peacetime repatriation mission Operation Matterhorn, the CAA has said.
According to the CAA, which is coordinating the operation, 64 flights brought home more than 14,700 passengers on Monday – more than 95% of all Cook passengers who were due to return to the UK on Monday.
Another 74 flights are scheduled for Tuesday (24 September) with the aim of repatriating a further 16,500 Thomas Cook passengers. In total, more than 1,000 flights are planned during the two-week operation, which is due to continue until 6 October.
Following Cook’s collapse on Monday, the CAA launched a dedicated microsite – thomascook.caa.co.uk – for those requiring repatriation, with the site already having received nearly seven million hits in just 24 hours.
Richard Moriarty, CAA chief executive, said: “Following the very sad news yesterday morning that Thomas Cook had stopped trading and its aircraft were grounded, we launched at the government’s request our operation to return more than 150,000 people to the UK.
“A repatriation of this scale and nature is unprecedented and, unfortunately, there will be some inconvenience and disruption for customers. We will do everything we can to minimise this as the operation continues.
“I am pleased to report that on day one we brought home more than 95% of people who were originally due back on this day with Thomas Cook; 14,700 people in total.
“We want people to continue to enjoy their holiday, so we will bring them back to the UK on their original departure day, or very soon thereafter.”