Thomas Cook is holding crunch talks with its creditors and largest shareholder this morning in a last-ditch attempt to secure its future.
The meeting is understood to be taking place at City law firm Slaughter and May to find a way to get the £900 million rescue deal over the line.
On Thursday creditor banks led by Royal Bank of Scotland issued a last-minute demand that the travel company find an extra £200 million in contingency funding on top of the £900 million.
Thomas Cook has spent the last few days scrambling to find the additional money.
Unions, including TSSA, Balpa and Unite, have called on the government to intervene to prevent the travel group from falling into administration.
This morning, foreign secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show the government was poised to fly holidaymakers home if the travel group collapses.
However, commenting on government financial support, he said ministers did not “systematically step in” when businesses went under unless there was “a good strategic national interest”.
Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) general secretary, Manuel Cortes, has called for the government to reveal how much it is prepared to spend repatriating thousands of Thomas Cook holidaymakers.
TSSA – which has members at Thomas Cook both in high street shops across the UK and in its office operations – had previously called on the government to intervene to secure the future of the travel group.
Manuel Cortes said: “We hope a deal can still be done but Dominic Raab and other ministers must come clean and tells us exactly how much the government is willing to spend bringing 150,000 British holidaymakers home.
“There is no escaping the fact that doing so will cost more than the £200 million needed by Thomas Cook to survive.
“Factor in the potential loss of 9,000 jobs, plus benefit payments and loss in tax and national insurance revenue, and it makes no sense whatsoever for the government not to step in and rescue Thomas Cook.
“This calls for strategic thinking. Thomas Cook was run very successfully in public ownership between 1948 and 1972.
“The government now taking a stake or completely taking it over, must not be ruled out as this will be an investment. Saving Thomas Cook would cost a very small fraction of the billions used to shore up banks during the financial crisis.”
Package holiday customers which include a flight are covered by the CAA’s Atol scheme, while customers on holidays which do not include a flight are covered by Abta.
Meanwhile, a Tunisian hotel has reportedly stopped Thomas Cook holidaymakers from leaving the premises until they paid their bill over fears it would not get what it is owed from the travel giant.
Posts on Twitter and Facebook suggest that holidaymakers at the Les Orangers Beach Resort in Hammamet were held inside with some having paid ‘thousands’ of pounds to be let go.
On Twitter, Christopher Thomas said: “Thomas Cook holidaymakers are being forced to pay hotel bills in Tunisia before being allowed to leave. Bills running into the thousands. Some very angry and scared people.”
Mike Barnes tweeted to Thomas Cook Cares with: “My mother is currently out in Tunisia and guest are being made to pay to leave the hotel to get home to UK. What’s going on?”
A petition calling on Thomas Cook to be saved has attracted 41,000 signatures.