LONDON, UK - The world's biggest and oldest travel company Thomas Cook, which was founded in 1841, has collapsed causing widespread devastation in the travel and tourism industries across the world.
"Thomas Cook UK Plc and associated UK entities have entered Compulsory Liquidation and are now under the control of the Official Receiver," a statement issued by the company on Monday said. "The UK business has ceased trading with immediate effect and all future flights and holidays are cancelled," the statement added. "A dedicated support service is being provided by The Civil Aviation Authority to assist customers currently overseas and those in the UK with future bookings," the statement concluded.
21,000 employees in sixteen countries, including 9,000 in the UK, have been left without jobs, with no notice whatsoever.
Months of talks among banks, shareholders and bond holders came to grief after last ditch efforts were launched on Sunday to obtain additional bridging finance, however the efforts were unsuccessful.
Aside from the tens of thousands left unemployed, more than 600,000 Thomas Cook customers are now stranded in multiple locations across the world, with their tickets and travel vouchers now valueless.
The British government has said it is in the process of rescuing 150,000 British customers of the travel group, which will be the biggest repatriation since World War II.
"Thomas Cook has confirmed that all the UK companies in its group have ceased trading, including Thomas Cook Airlines," the UK Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement on Monday..
"As a result, we are sorry to inform you that all holidays and flights provided by these companies have been cancelled and are no longer operating. All Thomas Cook's retail shops have also closed."
"The government and the Civil Aviation Authority are now working together to do everything we can to support passengers due to fly back to the UK with Thomas Cook between 23 September 2019 and 6 October 2019. Depending on your location, this will be either on CAA-operated flights or by using existing flights with other airlines," the government aviation authority said.
"If you are already abroad you will find all the information you need about your arrangements to get home on this website.
"If you are due to depart from a UK airport with Thomas Cook Airlines, please do not travel to your UK airport as your flight will not be operating and you will not be able to travel," the CAA statement said.
"This repatriation is hugely complex and we are working around the clock to support passengers."
"If you are currently abroad and your flight was with Thomas Cook we are providing new flights to return you to the UK. These repatriation flights will only be operating for the next two weeks (until 6 October 2019). After this date you will have to make your own travel arrangements. From a small number of locations, passengers will have to book their own return flights," said the statement.
"For further advice and details of your return journey please read I am currently abroad. Please note that repatriation flights are only available for passengers whose journey originated in the UK."
"If you are currently abroad and due to return to the UK after 6 October 2019, please read the additional information section," the Civila Aviation Authority statement said
"If you are ATOL-protected and are having difficulties with your hotel, please read managing difficulties with accommodation."
"Some of Thomas Cook's package holiday bookings include flights with airlines unrelated to the Thomas Cook Group. If your return flight is not with Thomas Cook's airline, it will still be valid. However other elements of the package, such as accommodation and transfers will be affected."
As far as future bookinsg are concerned, the news is all bad.
"We are sorry to inform you that all future holidays and flights booked with Thomas Cook are cancelled as of 23 September 2019," the CAA statement said.
"If you are booked on a Thomas Cook Airlines flight, please do not go to your UK airport, as your flight will not be operating. The Civil Aviation Authority's repatriation programme will not include any outbound flights from the UK."
"If you choose to book a new flight with another airline out of the UK, you will not be eligible for a repatriation flight," said the government authority.
"Some of Thomas Cook's package holiday bookings include flights with airlines unrelated to the Thomas Cook Group. If your return flight is not with Thomas Cook's airline it may still be valid. However other elements of the package, such as accommodation and transfers might be affected."
"Further information is available at I have a future booking and have not traveled yet."