Shropshire holidaymakers caught up in Thomas Cook collapse as major repatriation launched

Scores of holidaymakers from Shropshire and Mid Wales have been left with anxious waits abroad after the collapse of Thomas Cook.

Thomas Cook has collapsed
Thomas Cook has collapsed

Some were today stuck in holiday resorts while others were resigned to spending this week at home instead of on their travels.

An estimated 150,000 tourists are being brought home by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in a flight programme costing £100 million.

  • Have you been affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook? Let us know by contacting sue.austin@shropshirestar.co.uk or call 01743 283319.

Rescue flights were continuing to land at Birmingham Airport to bring customers of the stricken travel firm home.

Thomas Cook ceased trading in the early hours of Monday morning after failing to secure a last-ditch rescue deal.

The company was unable to secure the extra £200 million needed to keep the business afloat following a full day of crucial talks with the major shareholder and creditors on Sunday.

All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have been cancelled.

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Paul and Jo Gough from Shrewsbury should have flown to Egypt today but instead were resigned to spending their long-awaited holiday in the county.

Mr Gough said: “We are gutted. Unlike some people we can’t afford to pay for something else while we wait to get our refund. We had to save up for our holiday.

"Jo is so upset, she chose Egypt as we have never been before and we were really looking forward to it.

"We wont be able to go away later in the year as we can't take another week off work. And we have not to the money to book something else last minute and then get our refund later in the year."

"We heard all the rumours days ago but there was nothing we could do but wait and hope. We stayed up on Sunday until the official confirmation came in at 2am."

Mike Hince, also from Shrewsbury, who lost his holiday, said: We’re fortunate to have the money to book another holiday while we await a refund but feel sad for those not so lucky. Over the years we’ve met some lovely Thomas Cook reps abroad and I feel sad today as they’ve all lost their jobs.”

Rob Arrowsmith, from Telford, is in Corfu and is now waiting to here if they will be able to fly back home on Thursday.

Speaking from his hotel he said: "We arrived in Corfu last Thursday on a package with Thomas Cook. Now all our day trips booked with them are cancelled.

He said his heart went out to the resort's Thomas Cook rep.

"He has turned up today even though he is without a job to talk and chat with holiday makers and to cover what he can even though he is in tears.

"Holiday makers here are all more concerned for him than ourselves and want to make sure he is okay."

" As we are due to fly back Thursday, we have been following the news constantly the past few days so it was expected," Mr Arrowsmith said.

'We have been paying for this holiday for months'

Theresa Grevatt, from Hadley, Telford, is due to fly out to Thailand with her husband and son on October 21.

She said: "We just don't know where we stand. We don’t fly with thomas cook but our hotel is booked with them we don’t know if our flight will still happen we have rebooked hotel just in case."

Mrs Grevatt said the family was fed up.

"To be fair we feel really cheesed off. We have been paying for this holiday for months and been waiting all year for this holiday.

"They must have known something wasn’t right months ago but they were still taking our money. It looks like we have to book the hotel again so we will be paying double until we get our money back."

Neil Jones, from Leegomery, Telfpord, fears that the compensation he is due after a flight delay last month will never materialise.

He said: "When we travelled to Mexico in August our flight was delayed by one day. We should have flown on August 10 and it was cancelled until August 11.

"We are in the process of waiting for compensation. Four of us travelled and we should be receiving £2500 back. We rang and spoke to Thomas Cook Friday afternoon and they said they still have ten days left to pay us and it had been authorised.

"We asked about what was happening with them going bust and was told that it wouldn’t be happening. Obviously we are very concerned to see if we will receive our compensation now."

Dan Langford, from Telford, said his family were in a Tunisian hotel that was not allowing guests to leave until the hotel was paid by Thomas Cook.

He tweeted over the weekend: “Security are still on all gates around the hotel. @ThomasCookUK have paid the bill UNTIL Sunday. Which means we’ll be in the same hostage situation on Monday.”

Thomas Cook’s chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, said his company had “worked exhaustively” to salvage a rescue package.

He said: “This is a statement I hoped I would never have to make.”

“Following a decision by the board late last night, the UK Government’s official receiver was appointed in the early hours of this morning, the 23rd of September, to take control of Thomas Cook.

“Despite huge efforts over a number of months and further intense negotiations in recent days, we have not been able to secure a deal to save our business.

“I know that this outcome will be devastating to many people and will cause a lot of anxiety, stress and disruption.”

“I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners who have supported us for many years.

“This marks a deeply sad day for the company which pioneered package holidays and made travel possible for millions of people around the world.”

All quiet in Birmingham

By Megan Archer at Birmingham International Airport

It’s usually frantic and bustling with excited holiday-goers - but today the Thomas Cook check-in desk at Birmingham Airport is eerily quiet.

Empty Thomas Cook desks at Birmingham Airport

The announcement that the company had collapsed had come at 2am - a brief message popped up on all screens surrounding the departure zones, reading that Thomas Cook had ceased trading. And any unfortunate passengers waiting for a flight were handed a leaflet explaining their next steps.

Among those passengers were Great Wyrley friends Nathan Clarke, Matt Pritchard, and Sam Gadd.

The young group, aged 18-20, had been excited to fly off to Bulgaria for a “lads holiday”.

Sam Gadd, Matt Pritchard and Nathan Clarke from Great Wyrley should have been in Bulgaria

Aware of the trouble Thomas Cook was facing, they were expecting the company to collapse at 8.30am, they said. And with their flight booked for 5.30am, it looked like they could have just made it.

“We got here at 12am, but then at 2am that message appeared on all the screens and a security guy started handing these leaflets out,” Nathan, aged 18, said.

“We’re gutted but hey, what can we do about it? There’s nothing to do but help try and and get another flight.”

The message to passengers in Birmingham

Matt, aged 20, an apprentice accountant, spoke to the Express & Star at 10.30am having been at the airport for nearly 11 hours.

He was on hold to Love Holidays while he spoke and said they might be lucky enough to get a flight with TUI at 4.15pm.

He said: “We saw the crew come in too but then they all had to leave. They obviously had no idea and looked really upset.

“We were on this holiday for Sam’s birthday - he turned 19 yesterday and we were doing to do a bit of everything on this trip.

"Beach, clubbing and this thing called paint party. I went when I was 18 but was really ill so couldn’t do it, and I’ve always wanted to do it since.”

It was also due to be computer programmer student Nathan’s first trip on an aeroplane.

“We’re a bit disappointed,” added Sam, also an apprentice accountant. “Feels like we’ve been here a long time.”

The friends all paid about £500 each for their all inclusive week-long holiday to Burgas, in Bulgaria. But Sam said luckily they were protected by ATOL.

Birmingham Airport advice

A spokesman for Birmingham Airport said: "It is with regret that we have been notified this morning that Thomas Cook Airlines has ceased trading with immediate effect.

"Our priority is to support these passengers who were scheduled to travel from Birmingham Airport today by providing extra support staff, information and assist with their arrangements home.

"We’re working closely with the CAA and the DfT to also support the effort to repatriate customers back to the UK over the coming weeks.

"Passengers due to travel with Thomas Cook are advised not to come to the Airport as there will be no more Thomas Cook flights from the UK.

"Anyone booked to travel with Thomas Cook should visit thomascook.caa.co.uk or call 0300 303 2800 from within the UK or +44 1753 330330 from overseas.

"Thomas Cook has been a partner airline of Birmingham Airport for many years, carrying 750,000 passengers annually. It was Birmingham’s fifth largest carrier and based 4 aircraft at the airport."

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