Travel giant Thomas Cook has ceased trading after failing to secure a last-ditch rescue deal, leaving an estimated 150,000 Britons abroad awaiting repatriation.
Richard Moriarty, the chief executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said the Government had asked his organisation to launch what is the UKs largest ever peacetime repatriation.
The company was unable to secure the extra £200 million needed to keep the business afloat following a full day of crucial talks with the major shareholder and creditors on Sunday.
In a statement, the CAA said: 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.
Thomas Cooks chief executive Peter Fankhauser said his company had “worked exhaustively” to salvage a rescue package.
He added: Although a deal had been largely agreed, an additional facility requested in the last few days of negotiations presented a challenge that ultimately proved insurmountable.
It is a matter of profound regret to me and the rest of the board that we were not successful.
I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners who have supported us for many years.
This marks a deeply sad day for the company which pioneered package holidays and made travel possible for millions of people around the world.
Unions representing Thomas Cook staff, of which there are 9,000 across the group in the UK, had urged the Government to intervene.
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