The United Kingdom is assembling a fleet of jumbo of jets to rescue more than 150,000 stranded travelers around the world in wake of the Thomas Cook collapse. The evacuation will mark the largest peacetime rescue mission in British history, a scale not seen since World War II.
When 178-year-old Thomas Cook collapsed yesterday, holidaymakers were left stranded in more than 50 countries around the world. The company’s sudden shut-down and liquidation did not include a contingency plan for getting travelers home.
Enter the UK government and ATOL. ATOL, which stands for Air Travel Organiser’s License, is a UK financial protection scheme protecting most air package holidays sold by travel businesses that are based in the UK. It begin in 1973 and steps in to “rescue” stranded travelers when a holiday company collapses.
Working in concert, the UK Department for Transport and Civil Aviation Authority have devised a rescue plan, codenamed Operation Matterhorn, to bring everyone home as close to the date planned as
Note this package applies only to those who booked holiday/vacation packages. Those who only booked flights are NOT covered by ATOL (with very limited exception). Also, ATOL only applies to holiday trips that originated in the UK.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Schapps 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 centers 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.
Not exactly confidence-inspiring, but reasonable enough under the circumstances. Check thomascook.caa.co.uk for the latest details about your flight. Do not travel to the airport until you have flight confirmation.
This is a sad day not just for the travelers, but for more than 16,000 employees and for a company with a storied history that has been operating continuously since 1841.
Thanks to ATOL, if you find yourself stranded and your package trip originated in the UK, you will not be left stranded.