THE WORLD’S oldest travel company, Thomas Cook, has collapsed leaving thousands of holidaymakers stranded abroad.
Company chief executive Peter Fankhauser confirmed the news in a statement issued in the early hours of Monday, September 23.
“I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners who have supported us for many years,” Fankhauser said.
“It is a matter of profound regret to me and the rest of the board that we were not successful.”
The announcement came after Thomas Cook failed to secure the rescue package from its lenders that would have prevented its collapse.
Thomas Cook was struggling with some £1.7 billion of debt, citing increased online competition and a changing travel market as two key reasons behind their woes.
A Europe-wide heatwave last year, coupled with other geopolitical events also impacted profits on the traditionally lucrative summer holiday season.
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is now working closely with the government to bring home more than 150,000 British customers currently overseas in a two-week operation that represents the largest peacetime repatriation in British history.
“Thomas Cook has ceased trading so all Thomas Cook flights are now cancelled,” the CAA said.
Britain’s oldest travel company and one of the UK’s oldest businesses, Thomas Cook began operations as a rail excursions company back in 1841.
From there it branched out into offering holidays across Europe and further abroad.
The firm caters to some 19 million holidaymakers a year in some 16 different countries, operating hotels, resorts and airlines.
All told, the company has some 600,000 people abroad.
A huge rescue operation has been launched with governments and insurance companies coming to the aid of those stranded abroad.
Thomas Cook’s collapse is set to leave everyone from fuel suppliers to high street travel agents.