Published: 05:56, 23 September 2019
| Updated: 09:39, 23 September 2019
Thomas Cook has stopped trading after 178 years.
Empty planes from around the world have been drafted in to bring more than 150,000 British tourists back home.
The travel firm employed 9,000 people in the UK and 12,000 globally and has a number of branches in Kent including; Ashford, Gillingham, Hythe, Maidstone, Canterbury, Folkestone, Whitstable, Herne Bay, Dartford, Sheerness, Gravesend, Ramsgate and Tunbridge Wells.
Talks to try and secure a last-minute rescue deal failed overnight.
The flights will start operating from today. All the details of each flight will be posted on a special website as soon as they are available.
The Government and the UK CAA aim to fly people as close as possible to their booked return date – so customers are being strongly advised not to cut short their holiday or go to the airport without checking the website for information about their return journey.
The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: "Thomas Cook’s collapse is very sad news for staff and holidaymakers.
"The Government and UK CAA is working round the clock to help people. Our contingency planning has helped acquire planes from across the world – some from as far away as Malaysia – and we have put hundreds of people in call centres and at airports.
"But the task is enormous, the biggest peacetime repatriation in UK history. So there are bound to be problems and delays. Please try to be understanding with the staff who are trying to assist in what is likely to be a very difficult time for them as well."
A million customers have been told they will lose their future bookings, however many will get refunds.
A 24 hour helpline has been set up for customers - 0300 303 2800
More by this authorNicola Everett