Mansfield holidaymakers devastated as travel firm Thomas Cook goes bust

One of two Thomas Cook branches in Mansfield that have now closed.
One of two Thomas Cook branches in Mansfield that have now closed.

Holidaymakers across Britain have been left devastated after the 178-year-old travel firm Thomas Cook was placed into administration - leaving more than 150,000 Brits in limbo.

The struggling tour operator ceased trading on Monday (September 23) after a series of last-ditch talks to secure its future were unsuccessful.

The firm was asked by lenders to find £200million on top of a pre-agreed £900million takeover fee, to help maintain trading over the winter.

But after last-minute requests to central government were rejected, the firm has ceased trading - causing the cancellation of holidays for Brits and uncertainty for travellers currently on their holidays.

It also means two high-street stores in Mansfield and one in Sutton are due to close and dozens will lose their jobs, with the travel operator running outlets on both sides of West Gate and in Sutton town centre.

Molly Dennis, a pharmacist from Mansfield who booked to travel with Thomas Cook to Lanzarote on September 30, is one of thousands of holidaymakers now looking for alternative plans.

She said: "It's devastating. We've been looking forward to the holiday for weeks and since we heard about their situation on Friday we have been on edge all weekend.

"A frustrating thing is that we booked our holiday at the start of September when the company still had financial troubles, so a heads up about it would have been welcomed when we booked.

"But we're lucky because our holiday is ATOL protected, so we will be able to get our money back and book another trip. It's the people out there now who don't know how they will get home I'm concerned for most."

Anybody who has booked a package holiday with Thomas Cook is protected by the Air Travel Organiser's Licence scheme (ATOL), meaning they can claim the losses of their holiday back from the programme now that Thomas Cook has ceased trading.

But for the 150,000 people currently abroad on a Thomas Cook holiday, the largest repatriation of British citizens since the end of the Second World War is due to take place.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority asked to bring back hundreds of thousands of British citizens from destinations over the next two weeks.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said: "The government has asked us to support Thomas Cook customers on what is the UK’s largest ever peacetime repatriation.

"We have launched, at very short notice, what is effectively one of the UK’s largest airlines, involving a fleet of aircraft secured from around the world.

"The nature and scale of the operation means that unfortunately some disruption will be inevitable. We ask customers to bear with us as we work around the clock to bring them home."

Peter Fankhauser, the chief executive of Thomas Cook, said the tour operator's collapse was a "matter of profound regret" as he apologised to the company's "millions of customers, and thousands of employees".

Have you been affected by Thomas Cook's collapse? Email andrew.topping@jpimedia.co.uk with a contact number and we will try to give you a call.