The cancellations caused by the collapse of Thomas Cook Airlines and its parent company, U.K.-based Thomas Cook Group, on Monday have reportedly stranded more than 150,000 customers abroad. According to the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the failure of the 178-year-old tourism company, which ceased trading and filed for bankruptcy on Monday morning, has necessitated the largest peacetime repatriation effort in the country’s history. At the request of the British government, the CAA says it has “secured a fleet of aircraft from around the world” and launched a program to return affected U.K. customers home. The program is expected to operate from Sept. 23 through Oct. 6.
Thomas Cook announced last Friday that it was in negotiations to recapitalize and reorganize. “We have worked exhaustively in the past few days to resolve the outstanding issues on an agreement to secure Thomas Cook’s future for its employees, customers and suppliers,” said Thomas Cook Chief Executive Peter Fankhauser. “Although a deal had been largely agreed, an additional facility requested in the last few days of negotiations presented a challenge that ultimately proved insurmountable. It is a matter of profound regret to me and the rest of the board that we were not successful.”
The company was founded in 1841. It was acquired by Germany-based C&N Touristic AG in 2001 and merged with MyTravel Group in 2007.