The ongoing ash crisis has highlighted the benefits of booking a package, according to Manny Fontenla-Novoa.

As Thomas Cook’s worldwide team strives to bring stranded customers home, the operator’s chief executive added: “At times like this, the benefits of booking a package holiday come into their own.

“Our teams in resort and people on the ground in the UK are working tirelessly to ensure that our customers in the UK and overseas are kept as informed and comfortable as possible while alternative means of transporting them home are organised.”

The group, which has revealed that the crisis is costing them approximately £7m a day, has taken a number of steps including a series of rescue flights over the weekend and today, to bring long-haul customers back to European destinations, from where it will be easier to transport them home.

The first of these arrived from the Dominican Republic into Faro, Portugal, yesterday (Sunday) and holidaymakers are being flown back to Alicante, Spain, from Cancun, Mexico, today.

These customers will be transferred to local hotels and provided with food and drink free of charge, while coaches and ferries are arranged for their onward journeys. 

Thomas Cook is also continuing to arrange to bring customers in short-haul destinations back overland and yesterday people were brought back from Italy and Spain.

Today, additional holidaymakers in Spain are travelling back to the UK via coach and ferry with teams accompanying them.

Customers in mid-haul destinations such as Turkey and Egypt are also being kept informed on the situation and looked after in hotels.