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British holidaymakers scramble to get home as Thomas Cook is on the brink of giving up hope

Thomas Cook’s hopes of an eleventh hour government bailout will reportedly be dashed by ministers reluctant to pump more money into the flagging travel titan.

A £200million emergency funding plea was made by bosses yesterday to rescue the world’s oldest holiday company from the brink of collapse.

But with chances of either a private and taxpayer-funded cash injection wafer thin, holidaymakers are scrambling to board flights to avoid being stranded abroad. 

Tired travellers were seen slumped on airport floors and waiting in long queues this morning as they desperately try to get home.

Tired travellers were seen slumped on airport floors and waiting in long queues have this morning as they desperately try to get home

Check-in at Thomas Cook at Gatwick today showed people queueing for flights without knowing how they might return

Check-in at Thomas Cook at Gatwick today showed people queueing for flights without knowing how they might return

A source close to bailout talks between Thomas Cook and prospective lenders told the Times that it was ‘more than likely’ the travel business would go into administration.

And sources told Sky News that the company was on the verge of giving up on a possible rescue.

However this morning Thomas Cook insisted that their flights were running as normal and customers should not abandon their travel plans.

In response to a concerned holidaymaker, it tweeted: ‘Our business is operating as normal and we are looking forward to welcoming you on your arrival in your chosen holiday destination.’

Yet the uncertainty of the holiday giant’s future has left people fearing their travel plans will be cancelled.

A British couple fear their dream Lanzarote wedding in two weeks could be in jeopardy due to the Thomas Cook crisis.

Ryan Towers and fiancée Louise Jones have been counting down the days until their £12,000 nuptials on October 4 which they booked 18 months ago. 

The pair from Leicester are planning on flying out in 10 days taking around 30 family and friends to the Canary Island hotspot.

But they are now among the 200,000 holidaymakers fearful for their bookings, especially after news tonight the travel agency is abandoning hope of a private sector rescue deal.

Ryan Towers and fiancée Louise Jones fear for their dream Lanzarote wedding in two weeks as Thomas Cook faces collapse

Ryan Towers and fiancée Louise Jones fear for their dream Lanzarote wedding in two weeks as Thomas Cook faces collapse

Car dealership worker Ryan, 24, told The Mirror: ‘I woke up this morning to hear the news, just 10 days before we are due to fly. We are left not knowing what the situation is.’

‘My partner and I are footing the bill, which is £12,000. I’ve got the gamble of whether to hope Thomas Cook pulls through or cancel and pay £200 per person, that’s £6,000.’ 

They plan to get married at the Amura restaurant in Puerto Calero and stay at the nearby Lomo Blanco apartments but now face a nervous wait.

The 178-year-old travel agency has been struggling for years to finance its £1.6billion debt mountain and its problems have been exacerbated by the UK heatwave two years ago and contracting consumer spending due to Brexit fears, while new online competitors crowd out the sector.

Tonight, possible rescue scenarios have been ditched after it became clear the company would become insolvent within hours, according to Sky News. 

Investors including its biggest shareholder, Fosun of China, have refused to provide more cash, having already committed to a £900million rescue package. 

As the company’s share price crashed by 23 per cent yesterday to just over 3.5p, sources insisted there were still ‘reasonable prospects’ of a deal. 

They plan to get married at the Amura restaurant in Puerto Calero (pictured) and stay at the nearby Lomo Blanco apartments but now face a nervous wait

They plan to get married at the Amura restaurant in Puerto Calero (pictured) and stay at the nearby Lomo Blanco apartments but now face a nervous wait

But bosses may have to call in the administrators as early as tomorrow if they cannot find the £200million. 

Ryan and Louise have paid the deposit for their wedding and have been paying off the rest monthly.

The pair booked with Thomas Cook but its flights are with easyJet. But this won’t help the couple as the precarious travel agents say the flights won’t go ahead if it collapses.

The firm is seeking £200million in funding as it attempts to avoid going under, but some insiders said it could fold as early as Sunday. Administrators have already been lined up.

It means travellers face a 24-hour scramble to get home or face being stranded abroad.

Thomas Cook had hoped to keep airlines in the UK, Germany and northern Europe out of administration while letting its British tour operating arm fail, but the plan was dismissed for its complexity.

The 178-year-old travel agency has been struggling for years to finance its £1.6billion debt mountain

The 178-year-old travel agency has been struggling for years to finance its £1.6billion debt mountain

Among the families whose Thomas Cook holidays began under a cloud yesterday were Murray and Barbara Lee.

As they flew out from Gatwick airport for a 10-day break in Antalya, Turkey, they said they were worried about being stranded abroad if the travel firm goes under.

We’re worried we’ll be stranded abroad

Among the families whose Thomas Cook holidays began under a cloud yesterday were Murray and Barbara Lee.

Murray and Barbara Lee are worried about being stranded in Antalya, Turkey

Murray and Barbara Lee are worried about being stranded in Antalya, Turkey

As they flew out from Gatwick airport for a 10-day break in Antalya, Turkey, they said they were worried about being stranded abroad if the travel firm goes under.

The couple, from Bushey, Hertfordshire, said they had packed extra heart and blood medication in case they ended up being away longer than planned.

They have also looked at alternative return flights as a precaution after learning about the operator’s potential collapse in the Daily Mail.

Mr Lee, 64, who runs his own estate agency, said he ‘cannot afford’ any delays returning to the UK, adding: ‘I am self-employed and I have responsibilities. Even a day or two would cause problems.’

The couple, from Bushey, Hertfordshire, said they had packed extra heart and blood medication in case they ended up being away longer than planned.

They have also looked at alternative return flights as a precaution after learning about the operator’s potential collapse in the Daily Mail.

Mr Lee, 64, who runs his own estate agency, said he ‘cannot afford’ any delays returning to the UK, adding: ‘I am self-employed and I have responsibilities. Even a day or two would cause problems.’

Collapse would leave hundreds of thousands of customers stranded abroad and necessitate the largest British peacetime repatriation in history – for which the DfT is already preparing contingency plans.

The demise of one of the world’s oldest travel companies would mean huge job losses – the company still has 550 high street stores and employs 22,000 staff.

Collapse would also leave the taxpayer facing a massive bill of around £600million to bring stranded customers home because the Atol scheme funded by a levy on holidaymakers does not have enough in the pot to cover a collapse and repatriation of this size.

Whitehall sources told the Mail that plans, dubbed Operation Matterhorn, are already being worked out to bring home stranded tourists in an operation they said could take two weeks to complete, but the government has refused to give any details. 

Tim Everett, 30, from York, who has been paying £250 a month for a £3,500 trip to Zante in Greece next week with his fiancee and two children, fears their holiday is in jeopardy.

He said: ‘We’re worried about being stranded abroad if Thomas Cook goes under – that would be a nightmare.

‘I tweeted asking about our holiday and they sent a message which made absolutely no sense. I imagine they are inundated with others in the same boat.’

Thomas Cook bosses have met the Civil Aviation Authority as call centre staff ready themselves to help with a potential £600million repatriation effort if the firm goes under.

Staff provider Tele-performance started offering £10-per-hour jobs starting immediately to deal with the fallout, according to The Sun. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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