A REPATRIATION mission on a scale unseen since World War II begins today to bring home 150,000 stranded British Thomas Cook holidaymakers.
The British Government has asked the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to undertake the repatriation programme which will operate over the next two weeks.
The CAA has secured a fleet of aircraft from around the world to fly passengers back to the between Monday, September 23 to Sunday, October 6.
It is also contacting hotels accommodating Thomas Cook customers to let them know that the cost of the accommodation for these customers will be covered by the ATOL travel-protection scheme after the tour operator and airline ceased trading.
The Civil Aviation Authority has launched a special website, thomascook.caa.co.uk. Customers can find details and information on repatriation flights, as well as advice on accommodation for both those covered by the ATOL scheme and those not.
Customers currently overseas are being advised to visit the website to check their flight back to the UK has been confirmed before travelling to airports.
All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled. There are currently more than 150,000 UK Thomas Cook customers abroad.
The CAA has said that, due to the “significant scale of the situation”, some disruption is inevitable, but they will aim to get people home as close as possible to their planned return dates.
ATOL-protected passengers with future bookings are entitled to a full refund for their cancelled holiday.
Passengers currently overseas may also make claims for the cost of replacing ATOL protected parts of their trip, or for out-of-pocket expenses as a result of delayed flights home.
The Civil Aviation Authority will be launching a service to manage all refunds by Monday 30 September, once the flying operation has progressed. It is aimed to process all refunds within 60 days of application.
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, customers, hoteliers and other suppliers 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 and we have launched a programme to bring them home, which also includes costs to hotels accommodating Thomas Cook customers under the Air Travel Trust’s ATOL scheme.”