Thomas Cook collapse: Chaos at airports as fleet scrambled to bring 150,000 stranded UK holidaymakers home — latest news

Louis Ashworth
Suitcases are pictured next to a closed Thomas Cook counter at Frankfurt Airport - REUTERS

About 150,000 Britons have had their travel plans thrown into disarray after the collapse of Thomas Cook, leading to chaos in airports and hotels.

The 178-year-old travel giant has cancelled all its flights, leading the government to initiate its biggest repatriation effort since the Second World War.

A rescue fleet has been scrambled to bring back holidaymakers stuck overseas. Codenamed Operation Matterhorn, dozens of charter planes, from as far afield as Malaysia, have been hired to fly customers home free of charge.

The company’s 21,000 employees — around 9,000 of whom are UK-based — have lost their jobs, with 600,000 people worldwide having their travel plans disrupted.

Thomas Cook  collapsed into liquidation overnight , a failure that consigns the most iconic name in world travel to the annals of history.

Richard Moriarty, the chief executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said the Government had asked his organisation to launch “the UK’s largest ever peacetime repatriation”.

In a statement, the CAA said: “Thomas Cook Group, including the UK tour operator and airline, has ceased trading with immediate effect.

“All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled.”

12:48PM

Inside Thomas Cook’s collapse

Suitcases are pictured next to a closed Thomas Cook counter at Frankfurt Airport Credit: KAI PFAFFENBACH/REUTERS

Thomas Cook’s collapse wasn’t the result of a sudden shock: it was the culmination of months of fraught talks and negotiations that went down to the wire.

My colleague Oliver Gill has the inside story of the company’s final five days, as it scrambled desperately to hold together a rescue package that could keep it afloat.

He reports:

Even the Government and regulators have been caught out; despite weeks of contingency planning for the failure of the 178-year-old company, some holidaymakers face an anxious wait of up to two weeks before being airlifted home because the planes to take them home are not ready.

12:36PM

Cypriot hotels ‘will take €60m hit’ from Cook’s collapse

Cancelled Thomas Cook flights are displayed at Larnaca International Airport, Cyprus Credit: IAKOVOS HATZISTAVROU/AFP

Another big victim of Thomas Cook’s collapse is Cyprus, which relies heavily upon tourism.

Officials at the country’s tourism ministry estimate the collapse could cost the island’s hoteliers €60m a year, with a fall in British and Scandinavian visitors particularly harmful.

The country’s deputy tourism minister Savvas Perdios has reportedly cancelled all other engagements today to focus on the Thomas Cook fallout.

12:24PM

A blast from the past

Twitter user Bryan Elwick has shared some classic Thomas Cook posters, as a reminder of the company’s storied 178-year history:

12:21PM

Around 50,000 holidaymakers stuck in Greece

Tourists wait at a Thomas Cook company counter at the Heraklion airport on the island of Crete Credit: COSTAS METAXAKIS/ AFP

Here’s my colleague Nick Squires on the situation in Greece:

Around 50,000 holidaymakers are stuck in Greece as a result of the collapse of Thomas Cook, with one tour operator describing the company’s failure as “an earthquake”.

The tourists will be repatriated over coming days, with the first 22,000 expected to leave between now and Wednesday, said Haris Theoharis, Greece’s tourism minister.

Around 15 aircraft are expected to arrive today on the islands of Corfu, Kos and Zakynthos to pick up the stranded holidaymakers.

The repatriation is being organised with the help of Britain's Civil Aviation Authority.

Michalis Vlatakis, the head of a union of tour operators on Crete, where 22,000 people are affected, described the collapse as a “magnitude 7 earthquake”, the effects of which would be like “a tsunami”.

12:17PM

Full report: Condor turns to German government for bailout after Thomas Cook collapse

Condor is Thomas Cook’s main German subsidiary Credit:  FRIEDEMANN VOGEL/EPA-EFE/REX

 From Berlin, my colleague Justin Huggler reports:

Thomas Cook’s German airline Condor has applied for a bridging loan from Angela Merkel’s government in a bid to keep flying.

Condor, which remains highly profitable despite the collapse of its parent company, is desperate to keep operating.

But insiders warned on Monday that the airline will face bankruptcy unless the German government is prepared to bail it out.

Condor has not commented on the size of the loan it is seeking but German press reports put it at €200m (£176m).

“Flights are still operating despite the fact Thomas Cook Group plc has filed for bankruptcy. Germany’s most popular holiday flier has been profitable for many years,” Condor said in a statement.

But although flights were taking off, Condor was turning away passengers who had booked packages from Thomas Cook or its German subsidiaries on Monday.

Some 140,000 Germans are believed to be among 600,000 holidaymakers currently affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook.

The German government has not announced any plans for a repatriation operation like Britain’s Operation Matterhorn.

12:14PM

Hedge funds set for £200m payday from firm’s collapse

People outside Thomas Cook’s Peterborough headquarters Credit: Joe Giddens/PA

Hedge funds that bet on Thomas Cook’s collapse are set for a big payday.

While the Government scrambles to bring stranded Brits home (at a cost of roughly £100m), funds that bought credit default swaps — a form of insurance that pays out when a company collapses and is unable to repay its bonds — will win big from the tour operator’s demise.

Bloomberg reports:

Speculators including Sona Asset Management and ZAIA Investment GmbH stand to earn as much as $250m from the bankruptcy.

12:02PM

Political row begins over whether Thomas Cook should have been bailed out

Prime Minister Boris Johnson boarding his plane at Heathrow Airport as he heads off for the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York Credit:  Stefan Rousseau/ PA

Boris Johnson has defended his decision not to to rescue Thomas Cook, after Labour called for the collapsed tour operator to be given a state-backed bailout package.

Speaking to reporters as he traveled to New York to visit the UN General Assembly, Mr Johnson said of Thomas Cook’s rejected request for £150m from the state:

Clearly, that’s a lot of taxpayers’ money and sets up, as people will appreciate, a moral hazard in the case of future such commercial difficulties that companies face.

The Prime Minister instead said attention should be paid to the amount the travel giant’s bosses have been paid in recent years.

Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell accused the PM of “ideological bias”. He told the BBC:

The government’s intervention could have enabled us to just stabilise the situation, give a breathing space so that there could be proper consultation with the workforce in particular about how to go forward.

To just stand to one side and watch this number of jobs go and so many holidaymakers have their holiday ruined, I just don’t think that’s wise government.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has offered her thoughts to those people who have lost their jobs. 

11:49AM

Train services offer free tickets to affected customers

Network Rail’s train services are holding a unified line on travel disruption today, offering customers who have had their holiday plans foiled a free ticket to get back from the airport:

11:44AM

Tunisian tourism minister: Thomas Cook owes hotels £60m

Tunisia’s tourism minister, Rene Trabelsi, has told Reuters that Thomas Cook owes hotels in the country €60m for stays in July and August. It’s likely we’ll be getting a clearer sense of the company’s widespread debts as the day continues...

11:36AM

‘We woke up this morning and heard on the news that Thomas Cook had gone bankrupt’

John Garrett and Ajoulyn Chaffe arrived at Gatwick to find Thomas Cook had gone bust as they were flying Credit:  SWNS

More testimonials from the wires:

American couple John Garrett, 40, and Ajoulyn Chaffe, 35, arrived at Gatwick to find Thomas Cook went bust while they were in the air.

Holidaymakers who had booked with Thomas Cook were ‘devastated’ when they turned up at Gatwick this morning to find their trips had been cancelled.

Among them were Jerry Blackwell, 47, who said he and his wife were scheduled to fly to Dalaman in Turkey at 5.15pm yesterday.

Mr Blackwell said: “We went to the boarding gate and someone said it was cancelled due to staff illness so we got put up in a Premier Inn last night and were meant to fly out at midday.

“We woke up this morning and heard on the news that Thomas Cook had gone bankrupt.”

11:30AM

Thomas Cook staff pensions  ‘are protected’

People leaving Thomas Cook’s Peterborough headquarters Credit:  Joe Giddens/ PA

Thomas Cook staff who have lost their jobs today will have their pensions protected, according to the Pension Protection Fund — a statutory fund intended to protect members if their defined benefit pension fund becomes insolvent.

 The PPF says it will be contacting Thomas Cook employees today:

11:27AM

Petition to bail out Thomas Cook nears 70,000 signatures 

AChange.org petition to calling for the Government or a plucky investor to re-finance the collapsing tour operator is edging closer to 70,000 signatures. The petition, created by a Thomas Cook employee’s husband, says:

The iconic travel firm, the oldest travel firm, Thomas Cook has made dream holidays for us all and we have made so many memories, had work experiences and met so many great people that had effect in our lives.

Thomas Cook is one of Britain's most well known brands.

I so believe the company will come good again once this financial problems have been resolved. 

Let’s help our Thomas Cook at this difficult times. 

If the Government or any other lenders help to fund shortfall of money then the future will be bright.

11:15AM

Have your travels been disrupted by the Thomas Cook collapse? 

Share your experience by emailing yourstory@telegraph.co.uk

11:09AM

Final flight eyewitness: Clear staff had been left ‘in total limbo’

Passengers exit the final Thomas Cook passenger flight, which landed at Manchster Airport this morning Credit: OLI SCARFF/ AFP

A passenger on one of the last ever Thomas Cook flights to fly has  described how emotional staff broke news of the company’s collapse when they landed this morning.

From the wires:

Jason Ritchie, 50, was onboard a Thomas Cook flight from Orlando to Manchester with his wife Sharon, 49, when staff announced the company’s closure this morning.

Their flight took off at 12:30am UK time, half an hour after the travel company's collapse as staff rushed to get the flight off the ground.

Jason, from Nottingham, said: “We were just landing at Manchester Airport at 8:30am when the cabin crew announced that Thomas Cook had collapsed.

“We were due to set off from Orlando at 7:15PM local time on 22 September, and only experienced a 10 minute delay in taking off from there.

“When the staff announced what had happened, they sounded emotional and it was clear they'd been left in total limbo with no more information themselves on what we'd been told.

“I spoke to one of the cabin crew who said they’d heard nothing from head office, and hadn’t even spoke to their family — they had no idea where they stood with their jobs.”

11:02AM

Ex-affiliate Indian airline caught in crossfire 

Thomas Cook India — which exited Thomas Cook seven years ago and now has no relationship to the collapsed group beyond its name — has nonetheless seen its share price suffer from rough headlines around the travel giant in recent days.

The company has taken to Twitter to try and clear up the confusion:

10:54AM

Turkey prepares support package for impacted customers

Authorities in Turkey,  have warned hotels not to evict affected customers or demand money from them:

Here’s a video purportedly from on board the final Thomas Cook flight:

10:48AM

Short-sellers set to win out from Thomas Cook’s collapse

One group who will be smiling today are Thomas Cook’s short-sellers: investors who had placed a financial bet that the company’s share price would fall.

Around 11pc of the company’s shares were being shorted according the most recent filing to the Financial Conduct Authority, with the biggest short positions held by TT International and Whitebox Advisors.

10:39AM

Condor and Thomas Cook split on number of stranded Germans

A Condor airlines plane, part of the Thomas Cook Group, is seen at the Heraklion airport on the island of Crete Credit:  STEFANOS RAPANIS/ REUTERS

Other than the 150,000 Brits stranded abroad, it looks like another big chunk of the 600,000 customers left in the lurch by Thomas Cook’s collapse may well be German holidaymakers.

A few minutes ago, the travel company said there are 140,000 people abroad who are currently travelling with its subsidiaries in Germany. But Condor, its biggest German subsidiary, says around 240,000 are booked on its flight and awaiting a return home.

I’m sure more clarity will be forthcoming, but it looks like Germans will be feeling the disruption at least as much as Brits.

10:31AM

Scenes from around the world as travel giant collapses

Photos are pouring in from across the world as the aftershocks from Thomas Cook’s collapse spread:

A British Government official speaks with Thomas Cook passengers at Son Sant Joan airport in Palma de Mallorca Credit: JAIME REINA/AFP
People line up in front of a counter of Thomas Cook at the Heraklion airport on the island of Cret Credit: STEFANOS RAPANIS/REUTERS
Office workers outside the Peterborough headquarters of the 178-year-old tour operator Credit: Joe Giddens/PA
The last Thomas Cook flight, coming from Orland, US, arrives in Manchester Credit:  Gareth J. Bond via REUTERS
John Garret from Boston, Massachusetts. who was supposed to be flying to Malta takes a photo of the empty Thomas Cook check in desks in Gatwick Airport Credit: Alastair Grant/ AP
A British Government official assists passengers at Manchester Airport Credit: PHIL NOBLE/REUTERS

10:17AM

Liquidation will have ‘major impact for the high street’

Thomas Cook has 588 high-street stores Credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Thomas Cook’s collapse, as well as putting 9,000 people out of work in the UK, will also have a major impact on the nation’s high streets. Joanne Fearnley, partner and commercial property expert at law firm Gordons, says:

We must not forget in all of this that there is a major impact for the high street too. Thomas Cook has 588 stores which will inevitably close, a further blow for landlords already suffering from a number of high-profile closures and collapses. It’s another massive blow for the UK high street and underlines the need for imaginative change.

10:13AM

Thomas Cook collapse: Everything customers need to know

People walk in front of a counter of Thomas Cook at the Heraklion airport on the island of Crete Credit:  STEFANOS RAPANIS/REUTERS

 Telegraph Money have all the key info customers need about how Thomas Cook’s collapse could impact them:

Here are some of the key points:

Will my holiday be affected? 

The good news is that Thomas Cook package holiday customers will not be left out of pocket because these holidays are protected by the company’s Air Travel Organiser’s Licence, or Atol.

What kind of compensation will I get and when?

Atol will step in to help with either a refund or a replacement holiday. Martyn James, of consumer champions Resolver, said: “If you’ve booked a packaged holiday with a flight, then Atol can help with disputes and cancellations.” 

What if I'm already abroad? Will my return flight be cancelled? 

Even if you were stuck abroad, you will get whatever help you needed to enjoy your holiday then return home. The Government has promised to ensure that all British travellers who were due to fly back within the next two weeks are brought home free of charge.

Is my hotel booking protected?

Martin Lewis, founder of website MoneySavingExpert, said those who’ve already paid for their hotels abroad as part of a Thomas Cook package shouldn’t pay again.

But, he added, “that won’t stop a few uncertain and scared hoteliers overseas wanting money directly from British travellers to be doubly sure. This could leave British tourists in sticky situations. If so, the Civil Aviation Authority has a helpline which should sort it for you.”

 

9:59AM

Liverpool FC ‘assessing the impact’ of Thomas Cook collapse on hospitality packages

Liverpool fans can buy hospitality packages from Thomas Cook Credit: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC

Among its multi-faceted operations, Thomas Cook sells Liverpool fans hospitality packages to attend the club’s home games at Anfield. Liverpool FC said in a statement:

We are currently assessing the impact of Thomas Cook ceasing trading and the impact for those supporters who have purchased packages from Thomas Cook. Once we have those details from Thomas Cook we will update supporters.

9:54AM

First rescue flight sets off from JFK Airport

The first rescue flight as part of Operation Matterhorn has taken off from New York’s Matterhorn Airport carrying “over 300 passengers”, the CAA says:

9:52AM

Newlyweds’ honeymoon plans ruined after flight is cancelled

News agency SWNS reports:

A honeymoon couple were among tens of thousands of people whose holiday plans have been scuppered by the collapse of Thomas Cook.

Jane and Richard Dawson, who tied the knot on Friday, stayed at a hotel at Gatwick Airport overnight in preparation for their ten-hour flight.

But the newlyweds, from Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, where the world’s oldest travel operator was based, woke up to find that their flight to Jamaica had been cancelled along with hundreds of others.

Jane and Richard, who were due to fly at 11.45am today, were told to go home by airport staff.

9:44AM

Thomas Cook’s final passenger flight lands

Sky News has footage of the last-ever Thomas Cook flight landing at Manchester Airport, just over an hour ago:

9:42AM

Stranded customers: ‘The hotel next door shut the gates and wouldn’t let people leave’

An airport worker speaks with passengers of the British travel group Thomas Cook at Son Sant Joan airport in Palma de Mallorca  Credit:  JAIME REINA/ AFP

Around 600,000 people, including 150,000 Brits, have had their travel plans thrown into chaos by Thomas Cook’s collapse. My colleagues have been gathering stories from those affected:

Danielle Rutherford, on holiday in Tunisia told BBC’s Today programme: “We haven’t been told anything by Thomas Cook. 

“The hotel have said we shouldn’t have to pay, but we don’t leave until Friday so we don’t know. My husband and I were told on Saturday that we had to pay £4,000. 

“The hotel next door shut the gates and wouldn’t let people leave. We hope to be able to carry on our holiday and not worry about it.”

Read all their stories here:

9:32AM

MP: Collapse is ‘devastating news’ for Greater Manchester

Labour’s Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central, tweets:

9:29AM

Thomas Cook: a timeline

How did Thomas Cook end up entering liquidation after 178 years in operation? Our timeline charts the key event in the travel group’s history:

9:28AM

‘Gutted doesn’t cut it’

Some of Thomas Cook’s 9,000 UK staff are speaking out on social media, sharing their memories of working at the company.

9:23AM

Thomas Cook’s German subsidiary seeks emergency loan

Travellers queue up in a Condor check-in service at the Frankfurt Airport Credit:  KAI PFAFFENBACH/REUTERS

Condor, Thomas Cook’s subsidiary in Germany, will continue flying but has requested financial aid from the German government. AFP reports: 

Condor, the German airline subsidiary of British travel giant Thomas Cook, said Monday it was requesting financial aid from Berlin to help keep it in the air even after its parent company declared bankruptcy.

Underlining that it had been “profitable for many years,” the airline added that “to prevent liquidity bottlenecks at Condor, it has applied for a state-guaranteed bridging loan” which is being examined in Berlin.

“We’re continuing to concentrate on what we do best: flying our guests safely and punctually to their holidays,” said managing director Ralf Teckentrup.

9:19AM

Swiss chalet group: Matterhorn code name is damaging for Switzerland

A tightrope walker in front of the Matterhorn mountain Credit: Dominic Steinmann/Keystone

A Swiss chalet operator has raised concerns that Operation Matterhorn, the government’s codename for its operation to repatriate Thomas Cook customers, could cast aspersions upon Switzerland (home of the Matterhorn mountain, in the region of Zermatt). Matterhorn Chalets’ Ed Mannix told the Telegraph:

I think you will agree that whilst the Matterhorn is essentially Zermatt’s trade mark as well as Switzerland’s de facto national icon, any association with the calamitous financial failure of Thomas Cook cannot be good for us here.

In the circumstances, can anything be done on an official level to protect the reputation of Switzerland, possibly the world’s most financially secure country, and Zermatt, home of the Matterhorn and it’s most well-known known tourist destination?

9:11AM

Staff ‘in tears’ at Thomas Cook headquarters 

People walk outside the Peterborough headquarters of Thomas Cook Credit: Joe Giddens/ PA

Thomas Cook’s collapse is a tragedy for staff at its headquarters in Peterborough, who are set to lose their jobs as the company enter liquidation. Reuters reports:

Thomas Cook staff were seen hugging each other in tears at its headquarters in Cambridgeshire this morning — after the holiday company collapsed.

Hundreds of employees have been seen heading into the offices at Lynch Wood in Peterborough for a 10am meeting about the compulsory liquidation, which happened this morning after a weekend of talks to save the company.

Many looked tearful as they arrived at the headquarters, which employs around 1,000 people.

9:07AM

Travel rivals’ shares climb after collapse

Shares in rival TUI are up around 7pc Credit: Eric Greer/Boeing

Thomas Cook’s collapse is paying off for other travel firms, with rival TUI soaring nearly 7pc up as the biggest climber on the FTSE 100 share index.

Easyjet, on the FTSE 250, is up just under 6pc. Other airlines such as Wizz Air, IAG, Lufthansa and Air France-KLM are all gaining.

8:56AM

CAA chair: ‘Every single person will be brought back home’

Dame Deidre Hutton Credit:  Jane Mingay/The Daily Telegraph

The Civil Aviation Authority’s chair Dame Deidre Hutton has told the BBC that all Thomas Cook customers will be brought back home once their holidays finish. She said:

Every single person will be brought back home at the end of their holiday... Everyone will be brought home free of charge.

8:46AM

MoneySavingExpert: What Thomas staff who have been made redundant should do now

Martin Lewis from MoneySavingExpert has offered his sympathies to Thomas Cook staff who will lose their jobs due to the company’s collapse, tweeting:

8:43AM

More reaction from Twitter...

...it looks like lots of customers had close calls:

8:32AM

Thomas Cook’s Twitter support page has shut down

Thomas Cook Cares, the account through which the travel giant fields customer questions, has officially shut down, and will no longer be monitored. 

 The dedicated page for customer service support, run by the CAA, is here

8:30AM

Labour’s McDonnell: Thomas Cook bosses should have to repay their bonuses 

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell Credit: Kirsty O'Connor/PA

Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has said the government should have bailed out Thomas Cook, and that the travel group’s bosses should hand back their bonuses. He told the BBC:

When this crisis started I said to the government that they should intervene if only to stabilise the situation while a real plan for the future of the company could be addressed.

I think the government should have been willing to do more, intervene and stabilise the situation and allow a long-term plan to develop.”

To just stand to one side and watch this number of jobs go and to so many holidaymakers have their holidays ruined is not good government

8:21AM

A 178-year legacy comes to an end

Passengers talk to Civil Aviation Authority employees at Mallorca Airport Credit:  ENRIQUE CALVO/ REUTERS

The last-ever Thomas Cook flight will land at Manchester Airport in just over half an hour. You can follow its progress via OAG Flightview here.

On social media, users are continuing to pay tribute to the company’s more than 20,000 staff.

8:09AM

Wizz Air offers Cyprus ‘rescue fares’ for stranded Thomas Cook customers

Sensing an opportunity, rival airline Wizz Air is offering Thomas Cook customers hoping to fly between Larnaca and Paphos, Cyprus, and London Luton. 

The airline’s managing director Owain Jones, said:

Wizz Air is pleased to offer customers whose travel plans between the UK and Larnaca or Paphos have been cancelled following the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook the opportunity to travel with Wizz Air between London Luton and Larnaca at the special price of £99/€109.99 [One way including all taxes and non-optional charges]. The number of seats available at this special rescue fare is limited and the special fare is available only to customers with confirmed Thomas Cook reservations  until 30 November 2019 . 

7:54AM

Staff ‘stabbed in the back’, says pilots’ union

A security person stands next to the entrance of the German headquarters of travel company Thomas Cook in Oberursel near Frankfurt, Germany Credit: Michael Probst/ AP

Thomas Cook’s staff “have been stabbed in the back without a second’s thought”, the pilots union has claimed. 

A statement from the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) said that while plans were in place to rescue stranded tourists, pilots and other staff have been left with no certainty about their future. 

While detailed plans to repatriate passengers have been carefully put together and Ministers have and will continue to claim the credit for that, the staff have been stabbed in the back without a second’s thought.​

Despite continuing to keep Thomas Cook going in recent weeks with dignity and integrity while their own futures were being secretly decided we don’t even know if staff will get a pay cheque this month. It is despicable. Thomas Cook pilots and all staff deserve better than this.

For pilots, BALPA will be supporting our members through the legal complexities of what Thomas Cook liquidation means for them and doing everything we can to help them find alternative jobs in other airlines.

7:44AM

On the Beach faces costs from Thomas Cook collapse

Another British travel company, On the Beach, has warned this morning that it expects to take a one-off hit as a result of Thomas Cook’s collapse. 

On the Beach said that following the failure of Thomas Cook overnight it “is assisting customers that are currently in resort and whose travel plans will be affected”.

The beach holiday seller said it anticipates “a one-off exceptional cost associated with helping customers to organise alternative travel arrangements, and lost margin on cancelled bookings”. The company said it expects to recover the costs of cancelled flights but that it was still assessing the potential impact on its financial performance for its next financial year, which starts in October. 

7:33AM

‘A deeply sad day’ — Thomas Cook's boss

Thomas Cook boss Peter Fankhauser Credit:  ullstein bild/Getty

Thomas Cook’s boss Peter Fankhauser has said the company's collapse “marks a deeply sad day for the company which pioneered package holidays and made travel possible for millions of people around the world”. 

It was a matter of “profound regret” that he and the other board members were unable to save the company, he added. 

Here is what else Fankhauser had to say in this morning's stock exchange announcement: 

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.  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. I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners who have supported us for many years. Despite huge uncertainty over recent weeks, our teams continued to put customers first, showing why Thomas Cook is one of the best-loved brands in travel.

Generations of customers entrusted their family holiday to Thomas Cook because our people kept our customers at the heart of the business and maintained our founder's spirit of innovation.

7:27AM

Statement from Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook has made a statement to the stock market this morning confirming that it is entering liquidation. 

Further to the announcement made on 20 September 2019, Thomas Cook Group plc (“the Company”) continued to engage with a range of key stakeholders over the weekend in order to secure final terms on the recapitalisation and reorganisation of the Company. 

Despite considerable efforts, those discussions have not resulted in agreement between the Company's stakeholders and proposed new money providers. The Company's board has therefore concluded that it had no choice but to take steps to enter into compulsory liquidation with immediate effect.

The failed travel company confirmed that the High Court had granted an order for the Official Receiver to be appointed as liquidator. It said it expects Alix Partners will be appointed as special managers to act on behalf of the official receiver and that Alix will "work very closely with the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK to effect the repatriation of all UK customers impacted by this announcement". 

6:00AM

‘My heart is broken’

Members of the company’s 21,000 staff reacted to the news on social media, some posting pictures of themselves walking from their last flights.

“Love my job so much, don’t want it to end,” Kia Dawn Hayward, a member of the company's cabin crew, said on Twitter.

Chloe Rawlinson said: “Heartbroken to say the least. Had the most surreal 2 years of my life full of fun laughter and smiles all around and I’ll always be thankful for Thomas cook. 178 years of amazing service that has came to an end.”

Holidaymakers also expressed sympathy for those who lost jobs.

5:43AM

Grant Shapps: ‘We will bring everyone home’

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps Credit:  Andrew Crowley/The Daily Telegraph

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has promised to bring all the affected Thomas Cook customers back. 

4:38AM

What is Operation Matterhorn?

Britain's biggest ever peacetime repatriation has got under way in an effort to bring home 150,000 holidaymakers who were stranded after the collapse of Thomas Cook.

Codenamed Operation Matterhorn, Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the CAA, said it had launched "what is effectively one of the UK's largest airlines" in order to repatriate British holidaymakers.

Here's everything you need to know about the operation.

3:47AM

What is ATOL protection?

There is a lot of talk about whether your Thomas Cook holiday was ATOL protected. Here's a brief guide about what that means.

3:13AM

Fosun 'disappointed' in collapse

A Thomas Cook aircraft awaits departure on the runway at Terminal 1 at Manchester Airport yesterday Credit:  Anthony Devlin/Getty

Fosun Tourism Group, which noted it is a "minority investor with no board representation" in Thomas Cook, issued a statement after the travel operator's collapse.

The Chinese conglomerate, which owns Wolverhampton Wanderers, said:

"Fosun is disappointed that Thomas Cook Group has not been able to find a viable solution for its proposed recapitalisation with other affiliates, core lending banks, senior noteholders and additional involved parties.

"Fosun confirms that its position remained unchanged throughout the process, but unfortunately other factors have changed.

"We extend our deepest sympathy to all those affected by this outcome."

2:58AM

Dozens of charter planes hired

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announces dozens of charter planes have been hired to fly customers home free of charge.

In a statement, the Department for Transport (DfT) says all customers currently abroad with Thomas Cook who are booked to return to the UK over the next two weeks will be brought home as close as possible to their booked return date.

A general view of the Thomas Cook check-in desks in the South Terminal of Gatwick Airport Credit: PA

The DfT says  Thomas Cook package holiday customers will also see the cost of their accommodation covered by the Government, through the Air Travel Trust Fund or Atol scheme.

Mr Shapps said:

"Thomas Cook's collapse is very sad news for staff and holidaymakers.

"The Government and UK CAA is working round the clock to help people.

"Our contingency planning has helped acquire planes from across the world - some from as far away as Malaysia - and we have put hundreds of people in call centres and at airports.

"But the task is enormous, the biggest peacetime repatriation in UK history. So there are bound to be problems and delays.

"Please try to be understanding with the staff who are trying to assist in what is likely to be a very difficult time for them as well."

2:49AM

Thomas Cook chief apologies

Peter Fankhauser, the chief executive of Thomas Cook, said the tour operator's  collapse was a "matter of profound regret" as he apologised to the company's  "millions of customers, and thousands of employees". 

"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.

"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.

Thomas Cook chief executive officer Peter Fankhauser Credit: PA

"I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners who have supported us for many years.

"Despite huge uncertainty over recent weeks, our teams continued to put customers first, showing why Thomas Cook is one of the best-loved brands in travel.

"Generations of customers entrusted their family holiday to Thomas Cook because our people kept our customers at the heart of the business and maintained our founder's spirit of innovation.

"This marks a deeply sad day for the company which pioneered package holidays and made travel possible for millions of people around the world."

2:46AM

Website down 

Holidaymakers seeking information are being left frustrated as the website dedicated to the collapse is not up and running.

The website: http://thomascook.caa.co.uk/

 The CAA says:  "We are aware that some users are having difficultly accessing the dedicated website for information and advice following Thomas Cook ceasing trading.

Please keep checking the website as it is currently launching."

2:42AM

CAA launches 'one of the UK's largest airlines'

Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the CAA, said it had launched "what is effectively one of the UK's largest airlines" in order to repatriate British holidaymakers.He said:

"News of Thomas Cook's collapse is deeply saddening for the company's employees and customers, and we appreciate that more than 150,000 people currently abroad will be anxious about how they will now return to the UK.

"The government has asked us to support Thomas Cook customers on what is the UK's largest ever peacetime repatriation.

"We have launched, at very short notice, what is effectively one of the UK's largest airlines, involving a fleet of aircraft secured from around the world. The nature and scale of the operation means that unfortunately some disruption will be inevitable. We ask customers to bear with us as we work around the clock to bring them home.

"We urge anyone affected by this news to check our dedicated website, thomascook.caa.co.uk, for advice and information."

2:38AM

Operation begins to bring home holidaymakers

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the Government had asked it to launch a repatriation programme over the next two weeks, starting on Monday and running to Sunday 6 October, to bring Thomas Cook customers back to the UK.

The CAA statement said:

"Due to the unprecedented number of UK customers currently overseas who are affected by the situation, the Civil Aviation Authority has secured a fleet of aircraft from around the world to bring passengers back to the UK with return flights.

"Passengers in a small number of destinations may return on alternative commercial flights, rather than directly through the Civil Aviation Authority's flying programme. Details and advice for these passengers are available on the dedicated website.

"Due to the significant scale of the situation, some disruption is inevitable, but the Civil Aviation Authority will endeavour to get people home as close as possible to their planned dates. This will apply to both Atol protected passengers and those who are not protected.

"Customers currently overseas should not travel to the airport until their flight back to the UK has been confirmed on the dedicated website.

"Thomas Cook customers in the UK yet to travel should not go to the airport as all flights leaving the UK have been cancelled."

2:30AM

Thomas Cook collapses

Good morning. All eyes are on Thomas Cook this morning after the travel operator collapsed in the early hours of Monday. 

Thomas Cook has collapsed, a failure that will likely consign the most iconic name in world travel to the annals of history.

The Government and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have launched Britain’s biggest peacetime repatriation of customers.

The CAA said the tour operator has "ceased trading with immediate effect".

"All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled," it added.