Thomas Cook staff were applauded after the travel company’s final flight landed in the UK today.
The pilot of the Airbus A330 made an emotional address to passengers after touching down at Manchester Airport.
Passengers told Sky News they comforted the crew, who faced possible redundancy, and held a “whip-round” for them on board the plane.
“There was sympathy for the staff on board – there was a collection for staff, who were emotional,” passenger Gary Bell told the broadcaster.
The crew were “doing their job very well, but they were very very upset – they had to keep disappearing.
“They had a lot of cuddles off us,” another passenger, Donna Carslaw said.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Britain began its “largest-ever peacetime repatriation” on Monday as tour operator Thomas Cook collapsed and entered liquidation, a move that has left thousands of holidaymakers stranded.
Thomas Cook announced that all group companies had ceased trading after last-minute talks between company representatives and major shareholders and creditors failed to secure additional funds.
The firm, marketed as the world’s oldest tour operator, had sought 200 million pounds (250 million dollars) to fund “a seasonal standby facility” in addition to a previously announced 900-million-pound injection of new capital.
An estimated 600,000 customers are currently on holiday with Thomas Cook, according to the BBC.
Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it is arranging flights to bring home more than 150,000 Thomas Cook customers, who booked travel from Britain to 55 destinations, at the end of their holidays.
“The government has asked us to support Thomas Cook customers on what is the UK’s largest-ever peacetime repatriation,” CAA Chief Executive Richard Moriarty said in a statement.
Deirdre Hutton, the CAA’s chair, told the BBC that Thomas Cook collapsed because it failed to modernise its approach to the increasingly digital, “incredibly competitive” tourism market.
“I think the problem for Thomas Cook … as I read a couple of days ago, is that Thomas Cook is operating on brochures whereas the world has moved on to barcodes,” Hutton said.
Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said she was “really sorry” to hear about the collapse.