Thomas Cook collapse: government's plan to bring 150,000 customers back to UK
Thomas Cook has stopped trading after 178 years.
The global travel group, which operates a store in Diss, has collapsed - leaving more than 150,000 Brits stranded abroad.
Dubbed the largest repatriation in peacetime history, dozens of charter planes have been hired in order to bring Thomas Cook customers home free of charge.
All customers currently abroad with with the now-bust-company 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 flights will start operating from today, with details being posted on a special newly-formed website.
Customers are strongly advised not to cut short their holiday or go to the airport without checking the website for information about their return journey.
Those who haven't already left the UK but were booked with Thomas Cook should not go to the airport as all of the firm's flights are grounded.
The dedicated website will let customers know how to get their money back.
Richard Moriarty, Chief Executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, 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."
A 24-hour helpline has been set up for customers - 0300 303 2800