Thomas Cook has ceased trading after talks failed to produce a funding lifeline for the ailing travel company, placing 22,000 jobs at risk and triggering a huge repatriation effort to bring home 150,000 holidaymakers overseas.
The Civil Aviation Authority announced that the world’s oldest holiday company had gone into administration and that all flights and bookings had been cancelled.
The official administration was timed for the early hours when the largest number of the 94-strong fleet of planes were on the ground.
Thomas Cook has struggled to cope with a £1.7bn debt burden. The 11th-hour meeting came after the company had agreed a £900m bailout – but was then told to find another £200m, which proved a step too far.
Meanwhile, Thomas Cook holidaymakers were anxious that they might be evicted from their hotels or charged again for their holidays. Holiday companies do not normally pay hotels until up to 90 days after guests have left.
It has a total of 600,000 people on holiday currently, including British travellers, with Germany and Scandinavia among its major customer bases alongside Britain. It also operates about 560 shops on UK high streets.