Monday 23rd September 2019, will go down in history as the day one of the world's largest and oldest travel company, Thomas Cook ceased trading. The 178 year old holiday brand collapsed after failing to secure an additional £200 million to see them through the winter of 2019/20. 2019 had been a difficult year for the Thomas Cook Group, which included other brand names such as Direct Holidays, Manos Holidays, JMC Holidays and Airtours, with Brexit approaching causing a downturn in the market along with high debts from previous years following terrorist attacks in Tunisia
whilst continuing to purchase more high street shops in a struggling market place.
Thomas Cook employed 9,000 staff within the UK and, at the time they ceased trading, had 150,000 customers still overseas on holiday
. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) began the repatriation immediately and took two weeks to complete the project "Matterhorn" which was the largest peacetime repatriation.
On Monday 7th October, the CAA began issuing claims forms to Thomas Cook customers so monies for future bookings could be refunded as part of the ATOL agreement.
On Wednesday 9th October, independent travel agent Hays Travel, who's head office is located in Sunderland, announced the purchase of the 555 Thomas Cook retail shops and planned to re-employ a "significant number" of the Thomas Cook staff.