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At least 600,000 passengers have been left stranded while some others had their vacation canceled after Thomas Cook, the world oldest travel agency ceased operations because of debts approaching £2 billion.
The tour operator and airline, Thomas Cook said on Monday that it had collapsed, forcing hundreds of thousands of travelers to scramble to find a way home, after last-minute negotiations to obtain necessary financing for the debt-ridden company fell apart.
In its Twitter post, the company said:
We are sorry to announce that Thomas Cook has ceased trading with immediate effect.
The Civil Aviation Authority in Britain said that all Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and vacations, had been canceled, affecting an estimated 600,000 people around the world.
The liquidation of the world’s oldest travel company, which specialized in low-cost package vacations that included flights and accommodation in more than 60 destinations around the world, has set in motion what has been described as the biggest peacetime repatriation in British history, as the government announced plans to bring back 150,000 Britons.
The Civil Aviation Authority said that the first repatriation flight had left from Kennedy Airport in New York with more than 300 passengers on board and was expected to land at about 5 p.m. in London.
Thomas Cook was struggling with debts approaching £2 billion, forcing it to enter negotiations with shareholders and creditors that came at least £200 million short of what was needed to keep the company running. With no other choice, the company ceased operations.
Before the collapse, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government would not intervene to save the airline, adding that doing so would create a “moral hazard” because the possibility of a government bailout could encourage other companies to take risks.
The Civil Aviation Authority said it was working with the government to support passengers scheduled to fly back to Britain with Thomas Cook between Monday September 23 and October 6, the agency said in a statement on its website.
The aviation authority told passengers who were booked on Thomas Cook Airlines flights not to go to British airports, “as your flight will not be operating,” and warned that the repatriation effort would not include any outbound flights from Britain.
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