Updated | MTA helping repatriate British tourists after Thomas Cook collapse

British government to bring back all Thomas Cook passengers to the UK free of charge

Hundreds of thousands of Thomas Cook traveller have been left stranded around the world following the firm's collapse
Hundreds of thousands of Thomas Cook traveller have been left stranded around the world following the firm's collapse

The Malta Tourism Authority is offering its assistance to the British High Commission in the repatriation of tourists from the UK who have been left stranded in Malta following the collapse of Thomas Cook.

Thomas Cook, a British global travel giant, collapsed on Monday, after being declared financially insolvent.

The company ceased trading after talks to provide a funding lifeline failed, triggering travel chaos and a massive repatriation effort to bring home 150,000 UK tourists stranded around the world.

In a statement, the MTA said that the Maltese government would be evaluating the situation and putting in place a number of initiatives to lower the impact of the collapse on British tourists in Malta and local hotels as much as possible.

“High level discussion are currently under way with all stakeholders, and the MTA has offered all possible help to the British High Commission, which is coordinating the repatriation of British Thomas Cook clients,” the MTA said.

Subsequently, the Britsh High Commission communicated in a press release that UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that the British government and UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has hired dozens of charter planes to fly customers home free of charge.

The collapse of Thomas Cook - the world’s oldest travel firm - has sparked the largest peacetime repatriation effort in British history, with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledging to get stranded travellers home.

Johnson also revealed that his government had rejected a request from the travel firm for a bailout of €170 million (£150 million). He said doing so would have created a “moral hazard.”

Thomas Cook customers to be taken home free of charge

The British government and CAA has hired charter planes to take customers back to the UK without payment, the British High Commission said.

Codenamed Operation Matterhorn, the operation will be be bring back all customers currently abroad with Thomas Cook who are booked to return to the UK over the next two weeks. They will be brought home as close as possible to their booked return date.

The flights will start operating from today. All the details of each flight will be posted on a special website, thomascook.caa.co.uk, as soon as they are available.

The Government and the UK Civil Aviation Authority (UK CAA) aim to fly people as close as possible to their booked return date – so customers are being strongly advised not to cut short their holiday or go to the airport without checking the website for information about their return journey.

The UK CAA is also contacting hotels accommodating Thomas Cook customers, who have booked as part of a package, to tell them that the cost of their accommodation will also be covered by the Government, through the Air Travel Trust Fund/ATOL cover.

All Thomas Cook customers wherever they are around the world, will be brought back to the UK on special free flights or booked onto another scheduled airline at no extra cost. The dedicated website will provide all the information customers need to access these flights. A small number of passengers may need to book their own flight home and reclaim the costs.

For flights back to the UK, it doesn't matter whether customers are ATOL protected or not, or what their nationality is. Everyone on a Thomas Cook holiday with a return flight to the UK within the two weeks will be brought home.

Under normal circumstances, passengers who are not ATOL protected would be asked to find, and pay for, their own way home. However, given the extent of the disruption the Government is stepping in to assist impacted passengers and get people home.

Hundreds of staff from many Government departments and agencies, including the UK CAA, the Department for Transport, and the Foreign Office, will be deployed in call centres and at airports to help people.

Customers who haven't already left the UK, should not go to the airport, as there will be no further outbound flights operated by Thomas Cook. The dedicated website will let customers know how to get their money back.

Air Malta steps in to assist Thomas Cook’s Stranded Passengers

Air Malta said it was stepping in to help Thomas Cook’s stranded passengers in various countries following the announcement that the British global travel group has ceased trading, cancelled all its flights and suspended its operations.

"To minimise inconveniences to stranded passengers and assist the efforts being made by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, Air Malta has issued a rescue fare of Euro50 per sector available on its flights to/from Amsterdam, Brussels, Birmingham, London Heathrow, Gatwick and Southend, Berlin, Bristol, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich, Paris Orly and Charles De Gaulle, Marseille, Lyon, Milan, Rome, Geneva, Zurich, and Vienna. This price excludes taxes and charges. Tickets are offered on availability basis and are available only to Thomas Cook’s flight ticket holders or package holiday vouchers," Air Malta said. 

The Maltese Airline is also exploring other initiatives to help affected passengers in this unfortunate circumstance. Bookings can be made through Air Malta’s call centre on +356 21662211 from tomorrow, 24 September till Tuesday, 15 October with travel open until the end of October 2019.

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