The much worrisome anticipatory collapse of tour operator Thomas Cook has finally taken place, leaving more than 150,000 British holidaymakers abroad.

This development occurred after the company failed in its final bid to agree a rescue package.

So far, this could be referred to as the “UK’s largest ever peacetime repatriation” following the 178-year-old firm’s collapse, even after the Civil Aviation Authority said it had a fleet of dozens of aircraft ready to fly stranded holidaymakers.

Grant Shapps, transport minister, said people would be flown home free of charge but warned there would be some disruption.

In the words a spokesman for the CAA, he said: “All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled. There are currently more than 150,000 Thomas Cook customers abroad, almost twice the number that were repatriated following the failure of Monarch.

“We know that a company with such long-standing history ceasing trading will be very distressing for its customers and employees and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this news.”

The group’s four airlines will be grounded and its 21,000 employees in 16 countries, including 9,000 in the UK, will be left unemployed.

The company also operated around 600 UK high street stores.

The CAA said the Government had asked it to launch a repatriation programme over the next two weeks – starting today and running to Sunday, October 6 – to bring Thomas Cook customers back to the UK.

The CAA spokesman added: “Due to the unprecedented number of UK customers currently overseas who are affected by the situation, the Civil Aviation Authority has secured a fleet of aircraft from around the world to bring passengers back to the UK with return flights.

Source: Evening Standard