Tour operators and cruise lines have stepped in and taken over Thomas Cook bookings after the travel giant collapsed in the early hours of Monday.
Customers are being contacted by suppliers Thomas Cook agents had booked or whose product was packaged up using the flights with the failed company’s airline.
Operations teams across the country have reported painstakingly going through each booking to ensure customers’ holidays go ahead as planned.
Tailor-made islands specialist Sunvil had around 1,000 passengers affected. Managing director Chris Wright said the operator had “all hands on deck” as it implemented a “tried and tested process”, adding: “The operations team has been up all night through to the early hours and then the sales team came in this morning and took over the admin.”
Giles Hawke, Cosmos and Avalon Waterways’ chief executive, said around 150 customers were affected across the two brands and sister brand Globus.
“We have got a procedure in dealing with crises; we go through very methodically with the closer departures first,” he said.
Several cruise lines, including P&O Cruises, said staff were contacting passengers with current or future holidays booked through Thomas Cook.
A P&O Cruises spokesperson said they were “sourcing alternative flights” for those booked on Thomas Cook aircraft for the line’s fly-Caribbean and fly-Mediterranean cruise holidays.
MSC Cruises said its “priority” was to ensure passengers were still able to travel on their cruise holiday. The line added that customers due to travel within the next fortnight must get in touch, before addressing other sailings in departure date order.
Ticket provider ATD Attractions said it had reduced cancellation fees to 10% on fully-paid bookings and would waive admin fees if customers wished to change dates.
Travel 2 opened until the later time of 9pm on Monday night opened at an earlier time of 8am today to assist agents with booking queries, new bookings and support.
Meanwhile, questions were raised about how Thomas Cook Group’s German airline Condor, which has been put into administration, was able to keep flying while its UK counterpart was immediately grounded.
The grounding has resulted in a £100 million repatriation effort co-ordinated by the Civil Aviation Authority involving the leasing of 45 aircraft from around the world.
British airline Pilots Association general secretary Brian Strutton said: “The main difference between the UK and German contexts is that the German government is considering Thomas Cook’s request for short-term state aid, while the UK government gave a firm ‘no’.
“Is that the reason that Thomas Cook found a way to keep the German airline operating, while the UK airline was grounded, thousands of staff members immediately lost their jobs and the UK tax-payer is having to foot a bill for repatriation efforts?”
Transport secretary Grant Shapps, who earlier attended an emergency Cobra meeting on the government’s response, said: “People will experience delays, we’re not running the original airline, but we intend to get this done all in the next two weeks and then end this phase of the rescue.”
He also stressed people should not come home early from their holidays but should “carry on and leave on the date they were supposed to leave, having first checked the Thomas Cook website before leaving for the airport”.
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