THE biggest peacetime repatriation of Britons abroad is in full swing following the collapse of Britain’s oldest travel company Thomas Cook.
A shocking 120,000 British holidaymakers are still stranded overseas following the travel giant’s collapse on Monday.
A massive 70,000 of them were stuck in Spain, when the massive firm – which has 55 hotels and dozens of planes in Spain – filed for bankruptcy.
Most of them had been left in the dark about their travel plans and even if their hotels would be paid.
While all clients are ATOL protected, meaning they would be provided with flights home, many could not afford the expected wait for many hours, even days.
Some customers told the Olive Press how they had been forced to fork out huge sums of money for quicker replacement flights.
Jamie Marshall, 40, told the Olive Press he had spent €1200 euros on replacement flights from Mallorca to London for his family of four.
“It’s very disappointing,” he said. “We weren’t told anything. If a pilot I know hadn’t told me, I’d have just turned up at the airport.”
Many others were forced to bed down on airport floors as they battle mammoth queues in airports.
One mum, stranded in Almeria, insisted she will run out of vital food supplies for her disabled daughter unless she is flown home this week.
Demine Warner, 25, from Essex, will urgently need medicine for her daughter Aubree, who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy and needs to be tube-fed milk through her stomach, if they don’t get to fly out as schedule by this Wednesday (today).
“We still haven’t heard anything. I’m worried about my daughter as she is on medical milk and cannot eat the food here,” she said. “We will soon run out.”
Thomas Cook customers at some hotels meanwhile, reported staff threatening to kick them out if they didn’t pay huge amounts of money.
Bars in Magaluf clubbed together to pay for food, drinks and accommodation for a group of five lads from Manchester.
It came after staff at the BH Mallorca hotel allegedly threatened to kick them out if they didn’t cough up €1800.
“I don’t understand why they were kicking those boys out. They hadn’t done anything wrong,” a barman told the Olive Press.
He added: “There is no one in the resort helping out. Why isn’t there someone from the British Consulate here?”
In the biggest travel company collapse in history, 600,000 people were left stranded worldwide after the UK government denied an eleventh-hour bailout of £250 million.
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has commandeered a fleet of 45 aircraft from as far away as Malaysia to support the massive rescue operation.
They will fly from 53 destinations in 17 countries.
By the end of Tuesday, 30,000 out of 150,000 passengers had been flown home, with around 5% having to spend a day longer in Spain.
A massive 21,000 people (thousands in Spain) have been left jobless by the travel firm’s sudden collapse, with 9,000 in the UK.
Online competition and debts were cited as reasons for the company’s collapse by UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
Despite not balancing the books, the Thomas Cook directors received £50 million in bonuses over the last decade.
The firm’s most recent CEO, Peter Fankhauser – who apologised for its collapse on Monday – raked in £8.3m during his time in the top job.
Despite this, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson speculated that it could be time to ‘reflect on whether the directors of these companies are properly incentivised to sort such matters out’.
Thomas Cook was set up in 1878 to offer one-day railway excursions across the UK and has been running package holidays to Spain since the 1950s.
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.
This refunds service will seek to process all refunds within 60 days of full information being received.