The United Kingdom is assembling a fleet of jumbo of jets to rescue more than 150,000 stranded travelers around the world in wake of the Thomas Cook collapse. The evacuation will mark the largest peacetime rescue mission in British history, a scale not seen since World War II.
When 178-year-old Thomas Cook collapsed yesterday, holidaymakers were left stranded in more than 50 countries around the world. The company’s sudden shut-down and liquidation did not include a contingency plan for getting travelers home.
Enter the UK government and ATOL. ATOL, which stands for Air Travel Organiser’s License, is a UK financial protection scheme protecting most air package holidays sold by travel businesses that are based in the UK. It begin in 1973 and steps in to “rescue” stranded travelers when a holiday company collapses.
Working in concert, the UK Department for Transport and Civil Aviation Authority have devised a rescue plan, codenamed Operation Matterhorn, to bring everyone home as close to the date planned as
Note this package applies only to those who booked holiday/vacation packages. Those who only booked flights are NOT covered by ATOL (with very limited exception). Also, ATOL only applies to holiday trips that originated in the UK.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Schapps said:
Thomas Cook’s collapse is very sad news for staff and holidaymakers.
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 centers and at airports.
But the task is enormous, the biggest peacetime repatriation in UK history. So there are bound to be problems and delays. Please try to be understanding with the staff who are trying to assist in what is likely to be a very difficult time for them as well.
Not exactly confidence-inspiring, but reasonable enough under the circumstances. Check thomascook.caa.co.uk for the latest details about your flight. Do not travel to the airport until you have flight confirmation.
This is a sad day not just for the travelers, but for more than 16,000 employees and for a company with a storied history that has been operating continuously since 1841.
Thanks to ATOL, if you find yourself stranded and your package trip originated in the UK, you will not be left stranded.
Meanwhile the vulturish executives and directors walk away with mega bonuses pocketed even when it was apparent that the company was over the edge.
But surely the Thomas Cook package holiday model was past its use-by date ? Don’t most people now book cheap flights directly and then book a hotel, rather than this rather dated, paper ticket/ hotel voucher era deal?
Not at all. There are definitely benefits to having to deal with just entity to handle flight, hotel, tours. Not everyone needs or wants the added stress of having to plan everything themselves. Plus you also have group trips as well.
Repatriation, not evacuation?
So I am actually curious as there is nothing written about it…is the British Government going to assist the non UK citizens stranded as well? Apparently there are thousands of them.
They will repatriate nonUK citizens only if their outbound flights originated in the UK and only back to the UK. Other countries will be assisting their stranded citizens under various schemes
Please change your wording.
It’s repatriation, not an evacuation.
The rescue flights will take place over 14-15days.
So no rush, hence, no evacuation.
From a Thomas Cook former employee.
Some news sights have called them evacuations but I see little difference in “rescue” and “evacuation.”
Evacuation isn’t the right word if you’re bringing people home, it is repatriation.
Yet, if these customers are being allowed to carry on their full holidays, albeit, perhaps cut short or extended by 24hrs due to a tour operator failure. It’s not an emergency, the CAA have only stepped in to cover these flights to get people home.
If it was an evacuation, people would be told to leave their holidays immediately and return home.
So no. I stand my ground. Not evacuations. Repatriation.
Good to see the yanks can’t work that difference out eh?
No wonder ryanair staff cancelled those strikes! Lots of new hires to add those all those people will be looking for jobs. Easyjet and virgin already started recruiting people.
There is a difference between “evacuation” and “repatriation”.
I agree, but if you look at how the UK government has titled them “rescue flights” it seems like somewhere in between. If they are repatriation flights (they are) then perhaps that’s how the UK government should refer to them. If they are “rescue” flights than the distance between evacuation and rescue is much smaller.
Thomas Cook’s Nordic business continues.
Obviously they know about their parent company’s situation and were preparing for the worse, being a profitable business and all.
We have all of the British Thomas Cook fleet impounded at various airports. Presumably all of the cabin crew are now unemployed? The German government have baled out Condor their branch of Thomas Cook.
Hundreds of travellers are now stranded in Skiathos and do not have a clue when or if they’ll ever be able to fly back to the UK. We have to go through a constant regime oF checking out of our hotels travel to the airport only to return to check in again. Passengers cannot leave the hotel in case a plane arrives and they’re whisked off again. So people are on their third turn back today.
As our government are running “Operation Matterhorn” would it not be better to release the Thomas Cook planes re-employ the crews and show some injustice??