Thomas Cook: What to do if you're on holiday or have a trip booked with the collapsed travel giant
A major operation to bring home around 150,000 people currently on Thomas Cook holidays is underway after the company announced it had ceased trading.
It is said to be the biggest ever peacetime repatriation as dozens of planes have been charted by the government and CAA in an effort to bring home all stranded holidaymakers.
North East customers are among those stranded abroad or awaking to the news that their future holiday has been cancelled.
A spokesman for Newcastle Airport said: “It is with great sadness that we have received the news that Thomas Cook has gone into administration.
“We sympathise with all of the Thomas Cook staff and passengers that are affected. Our immediate priority will be to work with the Government and the CAA to ensure that those passengers that are currently overseas are repatriated as smoothly as possible.
“Our advice to passengers due to fly with Thomas Cook is that they shouldn’t come to the Airport. Instead, they should see advice here.”
It is also a stressful time for staff as the group’s four airlines are grounded and its 21,000 employees in 16 countries, including 9,000 in the UK, will be left unemployed.
The company also operated around 600 UK high street stores.
Here’s everything you need to know about the collapse and how it affects your holiday.
How will people currently on a Thomas Cook holiday be brought home?
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the Government and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has hired dozens of charter planes to fly customers home free of charge.
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, the Department for Transport said.
Mr Shapps said: "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.”
When will customers be able to return home?
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.
The repatriation programme will only be operating up to and including Sunday 6 October. After this date holidaymakers will have to make their own travel arrangements.
If you are currently overseas you should not travel to the airport until your flight back to the UK has been confirmed on the dedicated website.
Mr Shapps added: “The task is enormous, the biggest peacetime repatriation in UK history. So there are bound to be problems and delays.”
Will customers need to pay for their new flights home?
No. 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, the DfT said.
If you have to arrange your own flights after the two week repatriation programme you will be reimbursed for the cost of your new flight if you are ATOL protected.
What happens if the hotel asks for more money?
If you are currently abroad on an ATOL protected package holiday with Thomas Cook or any company part of the Thomas Cook Group, the Civil Aviation Authority will seek to guarantee your stay directly with your hotel. If you are experiencing difficulties with a ATOL-protected hotel, or the hotel is requesting payment, call the CAA call centre on +44 1753 330 330.
While arrangements are being made, do not make a payment to your hotel unless instructed otherwise by the CAA team.
What about future holidays?
All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled.
If you have an upcoming Thomas Cook Airlines flight leaving from the UK, do not go to your UK airport.
Outbound flights from the UK are not covered by the operation and if you choose to book a new flight with another airline out of the UK you will not be eligible for a repatriation flight.
If your Thomas Cook flights are ATOL protected, you should make a claim for a refund via the ATOL scheme.
If your Thomas Cook flights are not ATOL protected, you may be able to claim from your travel insurer or your credit card issuer or bank.
What is ATOL protected?
An Air Travel Organisers Licence (ATOL) protects you from losing your money or from being stranded abroad. The law says your holiday must be protected if it is a package holiday.
It means if your tour operator were to fail, the CAA will make a refund to you, or, if you're abroad, it will arrange for you to finish your holiday and fly home.
If your flight or holiday is ATOL protected, you should have received an ATOL Certificate as soon as you made any payment towards the booking, either by e-mail or by post.
To find out if you’re protected, click here.