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Thomas Cook ceases trading – what should holidaymakers do next?

By Sharon Marris, news reporter

Concerned Thomas Cook customers have been bombarding the troubled tour operator with queries about the fate of their holiday plans.

The 178-year-old travel agent has ceased trading with immediate effect following a failed last-gasp plea to its lenders to reduce a £200m funding demand.

Insiders said the company was examining "every possible option" as it tried to salvage a rescue deal with more than 20,000 jobs across the group at risk, including 9,000 in the UK.

Thomas Cook had sought to calm customer jitters, insisting on its website as late as the early hours of Monday that it was "working on recapitalisation planes to provide financial stability for the Thomas Cook Group going forward".

But what does it mean for holidaymakers now the operator has gone under?

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The collapse has triggered the biggest-ever peacetime repatriation of British citizens.

With an estimated 150,000 holidaymakers stranded abroad, the Civil Aviation Authority has launched a taxpayer-funded airlift to bring them home.

Back in October 2017 when Monarch went bust, £60m of public money was used to get passengers back to the UK.

What will happen if I'm already overseas?

That depends on your booking.

If your holiday is ATOL protected, you will be able to finish your trip and be repatriated home.

Package holidays that include flights are covered by this, as well as some flight-only bookings.

The CAA says you should not travel to the airport until your flight has been confirmed on a dedicated website: thomascook.caa.co.uk

What is ATOL?

Air Travel Organiser's Licence is a financial protection scheme run by the Civil Aviation Authority. It protects most air package holidays sold by UK-based travel businesses.

If a travel business with ATOL ceases trading, the scheme would support consumers currently abroad and provide financial reimbursement for the cost of replacing parts of an ATOL protected package.

The scheme is funded by each ATOL holder paying a small fee for each traveller, which is held in a fund managed by the Air Travel Trust. This fund is used to refund, repatriate or reimburse travellers.

How do I know if my holiday was ATOL protected?

The best way to check is to look for an ATOL certificate, which you should have received when you booked. This should tell you what to do if your travel business collapses. The number to call with any problems is +44 (0) 333 103 6350.

What if my package holiday did not include a flight?

You could be ABTA protected instead. Thomas Cook says on its customer care Twitter that ABTA and the CAA (who manage the ATOL scheme) would arrange for these customers to be repatriated.

ABTA, formerly known as the Association of British Travel Agents, is designed to cover holidays bought in the UK that don't include flights, for example coach, rail or cruise holidays.

ABTA protection means that if your travel company went out of business, you would be entitled to a refund which includes hotel costs. If you are abroad, your transport home would be covered.

Will insurance help?

Only if it specifically included failure cover and not all of tRead More – Source

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