As the UK government launches its massive repatriation effort to bring home 160,000 travellers, it’s creating confusion for some holiday-goers who aren’t sure whether they have to foot the bill or not.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority has said it will help pay for the protected customers who booked a holiday package complete with flights. However, if customers only booked a hotel and not a package, they will be responsible for the bill — unless they can get any refunds from their credit card or travel insurance companies.
Peter Fankhauser, the CEO of Thomas Cook, said in a statement that the company’s collapse was “a matter of profound regret.”
“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,” he said.
“This marks a deeply sad day for the company which pioneered package holidays and made travel possible for millions of people around the world.”
He added that the company had worked throughout the past few days to reach a deal between stakeholders and “proposed new money providers,” but the negotiations finally broke down in the face of “insurmountable” challenges.
There are currently 600,000 travellers on vacation around the world with Thomas Cook. The UK tour operator is an iconic name with a 178-year history — meaning its reach is wide and its travellers are scattered around the globe. It offered more than 60 different travel destinations, from Dubai to Los Angeles to Santorini.
The British government has launched an ambitious repatriation effort to bring home 160,000 travellers whose trips end in the UK — but hundreds of thousands more are still stranded, and their repatriation will have to be managed by their respective countries.
Tim Johnson, policy director at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said on Sunday night that authorities are working “around the clock” to bring stranded passengers home to Britain.
“First and foremost, this is a sad day for Thomas Cook, its employees and its customers. It’s a business that has been going for 178 years, so a very sad day and our thoughts are very much with them,” said Johnson.
“We’ve charted over 40 planes and we’re going to be running up to 1,000 flights in the next two weeks. It’s hugely challenging but we’ve given that commitment that we’re going to bring people home,” he said.
The first repatriation plane will leave from New York’s JFK Airport back to Manchester Airport in England.