TRAVELLERS say they are 'absolutely devastated' at the closure of Thomas Cook but have expressed support for the travel operator's staff.

The tourism giant announced early on Monday that it had ceased trading after failing to secure a last-ditch rescue deal, leaving an estimated 150,000 Britons abroad awaiting repatriation.

Lucy Jessop has been holidaying in Mexico for two weeks and said she had been set to fly to Manchester with Thomas Cook on Tuesday.

READ MORE > Thomas Cook: What happens next?

She said she was 'initially worried' after hearing about the company's closure but the Government had been 'amazing' in organising an alternative flight.

She added: "It's the employees of Thomas Cook and all those due to go on holiday I feel for.

"We were the lucky ones, I suppose."

An 18-year-old girl who did not wish to be named said she was devastated for her mum who had worked for Thomas Cook for almost 20 years.

She said her mother had 'known her job was vulnerable for the past few days but only found out she is unemployed when the news came out that Thomas Cook is over".

She added that she was the eldest of three daughters, the youngest of whom is 10 years old, and the now the only person in her home with a job.

"I have a part-time job with around 15 hours a week so the next few months will be a huge struggle for us.

"Especially since it's Christmas soon."

Danielle, who was due to fly from Manchester to Menorca at 6.40am, said she found out about the company's shuttering online.

"We heard our holiday was cancelled from Twitter and then the news 20 minutes before we left for the airport," she tweeted.

"We only booked the holiday on the 19th August.

"We are absolutely gutted."

Warrington Guardian travel columnist Ang Perkins, who runs Designer Travel by Angela Perkins, has many holidaymakers affected by today's announcement.

She said: "I am desperately sad to see that Thomas Cook has ceased trading today. My thoughts go to all the affected passengers, staff and families worldwide.

"Thomas Cook Group, including the UK tour operator and airline, has ceased trading with immediate effect. All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled.

"My priority over the coming days will be to contact my clients who were due to travel.

"You are 100% financially protected through ATOL if you were due to travel on a Thomas Cook package holiday."

WHAT DOES TODAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT MEAN:

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it has launched Britain's largest peacetime repatriation to bring home stranded Thomas Cook passengers, according to PA.
Here are some of the key numbers involved in the operation:

- All of the travel company's flights have been cancelled - that means the 105 aircraft it operates, according to its website, have been grounded.
- There are 600,000 Thomas Cook travellers who have been left stuck at 51 destinations in 17 countries
- More than 150,000 of those are Britons.
- The airlift is almost twice the size of the repatriation effort required when Monarch went bust in October 2017.
- In that instance, the CAA put on 567 flights which brought almost 84,000 passengers back to the UK.
- The final cost of the Monarch operation to taxpayers was about £50 million. The Department for Transport would not put a firm figure on how much it would cost this time around but it is understood it could top £100 million.
- Dozens of charter planes have been brought in from as far afield as Malaysia to assist with the mass airlift.
- Only holidaymakers with return flights booked within the next two weeks, between Monday and Sunday October 6, will qualify for a free flight home, as close as possible to their original return date.
- On Monday September 30, one week into the repatriation process, the CAA will launch a service which will seek to process all refunds within 60 days of full information being received.

Further details will be given at thomascook.caa.co.uk.

THOMAS COOK COLLAPSE

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