The UK's Civil Aviation Authority are working with the UK Government to rescue the 180,000 Thomas Cook holidaymakers who are advised to continue their holidays as normal

By Ian Horswill

Posted on September 23, 2019

Global travel firm Thomas Cook has gone bust.

The collapse of the original package holiday company will see 21,000 employees in 16 countries lose their jobs, including 9,000 in the UK where Thomas Cook is based.

Last-minute talks to try and save the world’s oldest – 178 years in operation – travel firm failed as Thomas Cook went into liquidation with more than 600,000 bookings.

Thomas Cook

The CAA will work with the Government to bring 180,000 customers back to the UK over the next two weeks, from 23 September to 6 October, with the help of a fleet of aircraft from around the world.

The airlift, codenamed Operation Matterhorn, aims to replicate as closely as possible the original schedule, though with larger-than-usual aircraft being deployed it may be that – for example – flights to UK cities are combined. In such cases, coaches will be laid on to complete the journey, Independent reported.

“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,” said Richard Moriarty, CAA CEO.

“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,, for advice and information.”

Thomas Cook’s four airlines will be grounded.