Thomas Cook Group, including the UK tour operator and airline, has ceased trading with immediate effect.
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.
In response, the Civil Aviation Authority will launch a repatriation programme over the next two weeks.
The effort will run from today until October 6th and is designed to bring Thomas Cook customers back to the UK.
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.
Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “News of Thomas Cook’s collapse is deeply saddening for the company’s employees and customers, and we appreciate that more than 150,000 people currently abroad will be anxious about how they will now return to the UK.
“The government has asked us to support Thomas Cook customers on what is the UK’s largest ever peacetime repatriation.
“We have launched, at very short notice, what is effectively one of the UK’s largest airlines, involving a fleet of aircraft secured from around the world.
“The nature and scale of the operation means that unfortunately some disruption will be inevitable.”
He added: “We ask customers to bear with us as we work around the clock to bring them home.
“We urge anyone affected by this news to check our dedicated website, thomascook.caa.co.uk, for advice and information.”
Customers currently overseas should not travel to the airport until their flight back to the UK has been confirmed on the dedicated website.
ATOL protected passengers with future bookings are entitled to a full refund for their cancelled holiday.
Passengers currently overseas may also make claims for the cost of replacing ATOL protected parts of their trip, or for out of pocket expenses as a result of delayed flights home.
The Civil Aviation Authority will be launching a service to manage all refunds by Monday, September 30th, once the flying operation has progressed.
This refunds service will seek to process all refunds within 60 days of full information being received.
Details and advice for these passengers are available on the dedicated website.
Image: Rick Findler/PA Wire/PA Images