Tour company Thomas Cook collapses, stranding travelers

7:46 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Downing Street defends decision to not save Thomas Cook

 A general view of Number 10 Downing Street's front door.
 A general view of Number 10 Downing Street's front door. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The UK Government has defended its decision not to save Thomas Cook from liquidation, telling the PA Media news agency that doing so "would not have been a good use of taxpayers' money."

"We would have had to repatriate people later down the line and have lost more money in the process," a Number 10 spokeswoman told the agency.

"It is obviously a very competitive market, and it isn't the Government's role to prop up companies when this sort of issue arises. Our decision was that injecting cash into the situation was not going to make it any better."

The spokeswoman added there were "serious concerns" over bonuses paid to Thomas Cook directors. PA Media reported that questions over the bonuses would form part of the Insolvency Service's investigation into the company's collapse.

7:42 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Travelers booked on Thomas Cook flights try their luck at Gatwick

Martin Nowell and Pixie Flageul had booked flights with Thomas Cook to Hurghada, Egypt.
Martin Nowell and Pixie Flageul had booked flights with Thomas Cook to Hurghada, Egypt. Sebastian Shukla

Martin Nowell and Pixie Flageul told CNN they opted to try their luck at Gatwick Airport this morning, despite news of Thomas Cook's collapse.

"We thought we would try it until we hit the buffers," said Nowell, explaining that the couple had been due to fly to Hurghada in Egypt.

"We were all packed and ready to go," he added. "Pixie has been looking forward to this for months."

He said the pair had booked their flights through the tour operator, and their hotel through another agency.

"I'm glad we didn’t fly because we could get stuck, and we only have limited means in terms be able to bail ourselves out," Nowell added.

7:21 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Railway companies offer refunds to affected customers

British railway companies have issued a statement saying they will refund any pre-booked tickets to Gatwick or Luton airport that were bought by customers affected by Thomas Cook's collapse.

Southern Railway, Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Great Northern Rail said in the statement that they will also honor any rail tickets bought for passengers returning to the UK earlier, or later than planned.

Read the full statement here

Trains travel on the railway tracks near Victoria Station in London.
Trains travel on the railway tracks near Victoria Station in London. Leon Neal/Getty Images

7:15 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Passenger finds out about Thomas Cook's collapse after reading a media newsletter

Travelers await information at Menorca Airport in Spain.
Travelers await information at Menorca Airport in Spain. Fiona Redding

Fiona Redding, who is currently stuck at Menorca Airport awaiting a flight back to Bristol says she found out about Thomas Cook's collapse after reading a newsletter.

“I found out via the Guardian daily news email when I had already gone through security," Redding told CNN.

“I’ve been here since 8am. It’s not clear what’s going on with flights at the moment, the times keep changing (to later and later). I’m flight-only so not protected by ATOL, unfortunately.”

Despite the delay, Redding says her first thoughts go to the Thomas Cook employees.

“I just feel for the employees -- I’ll get home eventually but they won’t have a job to go back to.”

People writing all this vitriolic stuff about Brexit would do well to remember there are real human beings who will be impacted today and beyond.”
6:45 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Travelers stuck at Menorca airport

Michael Welham -- who has been at Menorca Airport in Spain since 7am, local time -- told CNN that he, along with what he estimates to be 1,000 other Thomas Cook customers, are still stranded, waiting for more news.

Welham had been due to fly back to London Stansted airport today, at the end of a one-week holiday.

He said his flight looks set to be delayed until 4:30 p.m., but that despite the bad news, the general mood in the airport is positive.

Everyone seems understanding at the moment, I suppose you have to think about the people who have lost their jobs, which is worse than a few hours delay."

6:10 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Low-cost airline Jet2 admits flight prices may rise

British low-cost airline Jet2 has warned that its prices may rise as a result of higher demand for flights following Thomas Cook's collapse.

In a tweet, a customer reported that he had planned to book a holiday through the airline, but found the price had skyrocketed.

A representative of Jet2 replied, saying it was "saddened" by the news of Thomas Cook's collapse, but adding that "our flights and holiday prices work on a live system which means prices can (and do) fluctuate based on various factors, including demand, availability etc."

5:49 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Thomas Cook CEO says the collapse is "devastating"

Thomas Cook CEO Peter Fankhauser spoke to reporters early Monday about the collapse of the company he has led since 2014.

He said there had been "huge efforts" and negotiations to try to save the travel operator over the past few months, but that they had ultimately failed.

Read his statement:

"I know that this outcome will be devastating to many people and will cause a lot of anxiety, stress and disruption. First I want to apologize to my 21,000 colleagues who I know will be heartbroken. You all fought so hard to make Thomas Cook a success.
Secondly I would like to say sorry to all our customers -- those who are on holidays with us now and those who have booked with us in the coming months. My colleagues will be working with the Civil Aviation Authority to help with the repatriation.
Finally I would like to apologize to the many thousands of hoteliers and suppliers who have stuck by our business in good times and in bad, and who now face difficult financial choices of their own.
It has been my privilege to lead Thomas Cook. It is deeply distressing to me that it has not been possible to save one of the most loved brands in travel.”
5:32 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Liverpool fans could miss out on hospitality packages following Thomas Cook collapse

Liverpool Football Club has been hit by the collapse of Thomas Cook -- which sells hospitality packages for its games at Anfield Stadium.

"We are currently assessing the impact of Thomas Cook ceasing trading and the impact for those supporters who have purchased packages from Thomas Cook," the club said in a statement online.

"Once we have those details from Thomas Cook, we will update supporters."

5:31 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Rival travel companies get a boost

Rival travel groups and airlines got a boost from Thomas Cook’s demise in early European trading. 

Shares in the region’s leading low-cost airlines Ryanair and EasyJet were up by 2% and 5% respectively.

EasyJet is making a big push into the holiday business with the aim of selling accommodation packages to millions of people who fly with the airline but currently book hotels elsewhere.

EasyJet is also working with the UK Civil Aviation Authority to support the huge repatriation effort required to bring stranded Thomas Cook customers back to the United Kingdom.

Germany's TUI, Thomas Cook’s biggest rival tour operator, saw its shares gain more than 6% in Frankfurt.