More than three quarters of claims from Thomas Cook customers have been settled with total payments of over £200 million, the aviation regulator has revealed.

The payouts for the period to December 15 cover more than 250,000 claims in total.

Some 300,000 of the holidays cancelled after Thomas Cook went bust in September were financially protected under the Atol scheme.

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The Civil Aviation Authority, which manages the scheme on behalf of the Air Travel Trust, said earlier this month that one in three of the first people to claim refunds were not paid within a target of 60 days.

In an update on the process on Monday, CAA chief executive Richard Moriarty said: “We thank consumers for their ongoing patience as we undertake the UK’s largest and most complex travel claims operation.

“We want to ensure we get the right amount of money back to the right people as soon as we can, and we have so far paid out over £200 million by settling over a quarter of a million claims, 75% of the total we have received.”

He added: “We understand that those consumers that have not been paid yet have had to wait longer than we had hoped and we are doing all we can to process these claims as soon as possible.

“Unfortunately, our operation has had to include extra checks and processes owing to the quality of the information we received from Thomas Cook’s systems and the potential threats of scams and fraud.

“We will continue to make as many payments as possible each day and contact consumers that need to provide us with further information in order to validate their claims.”

The figures cover the period until the end of December 15.

The claims process opened on October 7 and remains open until September 22, 2020 with the latest figures above representing all claims received to date.

The regulator urged any Thomas Cook customer that has not yet submitted a claim to do so as soon as possible.

The update came as the union that represented shop staff at Thomas Cook lambasted the government for allowing the company to rack up “eye watering” liabilities of £9 billion.

The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association criticised the government’s role in the collapse of the travel giant in September “expensive and irresponsible”.

The Thomas Cook retail staff union repeated its call for an independent inquiry to ensure that taxpayers do not pay for the government’s failure.

And Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “This is a stark reminder of the huge financial impact that Thomas Cook had on hundreds of thousands of customers, who saw plans for holidays, weddings and other long-awaited trips vanish into thin air.

“While it is understandably frustrating for customers who are still waiting to get their money back, we would urge people to make sure they stick with official channels, as scammers have tried to take advantage in the past.

“In the longer term, the government must look at what measures can be introduced to ensure that holidaymakers aren’t left picking up the pieces when holiday firms or airlines collapse.”

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