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COLLAPSE: Thousands of holiday-makers were left stranded

THE 150,000 customers who were left stranded is just a drop in the ocean.

Now the British government is about to start refunding more than 360,000 ATOL-protected holidays, after the collapse of Thomas Cook.

The total, which will run into hundreds of millions, covers trips that would have been taken by 800,000 holidaymakers. 

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which is overseeing the huge process, aims to see refunds made within 60 days of a claim form being received.

“ATOL-protected customers who were abroad can also claim for the cost of replacing the protected parts of their trip, or out of pocket expenses as a result of delayed flights,” explained a spokesman this week.

A special website set up to handle the claims crashed within hours of being launched this week.

However, the CAA claimed that more than 24,000 direct debit payments are already being processed.

The UK Government has now launched an inquiry into the crash of the 178-year-old travel giant last month.

In Spain, meanwhile, a 13-point royal decree will provide a ‘comprehensive response’ to the range of problems that have impacted tourism following the collapse.

Among the €300m set aside, will be a reduction in airport taxes for passengers to the Canary and Balearic Islands, as well as aid for hotels and workers.

A total of 3,400 direct staff lost their jobs, while 700,000 tourists that had booked holidays this winter will now not visit Spain.

Around 600 hotels owed money will also be given the option of deferring taxes and delaying payments.

Thomas Cook has debts of €200 million with around 1,000 Spanish firms in total.

For employees left without jobs the Government has pledged some financial relief, as well as policies to accelerate their relocation to other roles.An online refund form is available for holidaymakers at: thomascook.caa.co.uk/refunds/

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