The Civil Aviation Authority regulator, which is managing the UK's biggest repatriation since World War II after Thomas Cook's dramatic bankruptcy, said in a statement that it flew back 14,700 of the 150,000 stranded Britons on Monday. The 179-year-old travel provider was seeking #250 million from private investors to save the collapse.
An additional 3,000 tourists are expected to leave from the province during the day.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was traveling to NY for the U.N. General Assembly, said the government was right not to bail out the company, arguing that bailing out Thomas Cook could have led other firms to expect the same treatment.
The company's chief executive apologized, adding that all attempts were made to avoid liquidation.
Meanwhile, criticism is mounting over the pay of Thomas Cook's management, who steered the 178-year-old company into the rocks with vast debts.
The long-troubled group has also been blighted by enormous costs arising from its disastrous 2007 merger with MyTravel, a deal that left it plagued with huge levels of debt.
The CAA has said that they have put together a fleet of 40 aircraft and will begin flying people home starting today through October 6. A joint operation between the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority and the government has been launched, codenamed Operation Matterhorn, which has seen dozens of chartered planes hired to return customers home free of charge from Monday.
The CAA said: "If you are now overseas and your flight was with Thomas Cook we are providing new flights to return you to the UK". Top executives reportedly shared up to 20 million pounds between them in pay and perks over the past five years at a time Thomas Cook's profits were in sharp decline, with the last two chief executives, Peter Fankhauser and Harriet Green, netting around half of that.
Thomas Cook's Nordic business consists of two legal entities, Thomas Cook Northern Europe and Thomas Cook Scandinavian Airlines, and is also known as Ving Group.
One of the world's best-known holiday brands, the business was founded in 1841 in Leicestershire by cabinet-maker Thomas Cook.
A stream of reports hinted at the extent of the travel chaos: some 50,000 Thomas Cook travelers were stranded in Greece; up to 30,000 stuck in Spain's Canary Islands; 21,000 were left in Turkey and 15,000 were in Cyprus.
Officials talk with passengers at the Thomas Cook Check-In desks at the South Terminal of London Gatwick Airport in Crawley, south of London on September 23, 2019, after the company announced it was taking steps to enter into compulsory liquidation with immediate effect. Its shares are worthless and now suspended.
The Dutch branch has not yet filed for bankruptcy after its British parent company went out of business on Sunday night, causing 600,000 bookings to be cancelled and leaving travellers around the world dependent on the United Kingdom government to get them home.
"A rescue package would likely have amounted to little more than delaying the inevitable and simply throwing good money after bad", said Mr David Cheetham, an analyst for online broker XTB.
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