Holidaymakers from the north-east have spoken of their devastation after flights were cancelled due to the collapse of Thomas Cook.
The travel giant announced holidaymakers from the yesterday that it had ceased trading after failing to secure a £200 million rescue deal.
It is estimated around 150,000 people from the UK are currently abroad waiting for repatriation and thousands have had their holidays cancelled.
While thousands of jobs have been lost – the firm has had to close 600 stores, which employed 21,000 people in different countries.
In Aberdeen there were outlets in the Bon Accord Centre and Sainsbury’s in Berryden, though it is not known how many jobs have been lost as a result of the store closures.
As a result of the operator going bust, a city couple have been left without flights or accommodation for their dream wedding
Liam Walker, 28, and his fiancée, Rebecca Scott, 30, are due to wed on the Greek island of Santorini in August next year but are now faced with having to find new flights and accommodation for 15 people.
The couple, who are from Bucksburn, shelled out £17,000 for the party of 15 to travel and stay on the Aegean island, and are faced with the reality that it could take months to get their money back ahead of their upcoming nuptials.
Liam, who owns Westhill Taxis, said: “There’s 15 of us going out and we’ve no accommodation or flights.
“We are protected but it will take months to get this money back.
“I’m going to be out of pocket for however many months.
“It’s really a bit of a nightmare.
“We might end up having to split up over different hotels when we’re meant to be together to enjoy our special day. We’llprobably be carted up and dotted out all over the place.”
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has been asked by the Government to help get those stranded abroad back to the UK in what was described as the “largest ever peacetime repatriation”.
CAA will be helping people in 51 destinations in 17 countries over the next two weeks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to help holidaymakers stranded by the firm’s closure and said his thoughts were with customers.
A newly-wed couple took matters into their own hands when faced with the stress of losing their honeymoon to Orlando, Florida, during their wedding day on Saturday.
Diane Allen, 30, who works as a nurse in Huntly, got married to Gareth at Norwood Hall Hotel, in Aberdeen on Saturday.
The pair were forced to shell out £1,300 of their own cash to get replacement flights with IcelandAir to the US today.
The couple, who are from Dufftown, Moray, had booked a package deal with Thomas Cook to stay two weeks in Orlando and while they should eventually get their money back since it is Atol protected, they have paid out the cash now in a bid to save their honeymoon.
Gareth, 30, who is a marine engineer, said: “We have checked into the hotel we are staying at in the Animal Kingdom but we don’t know for certain we will get to stay.
“This all hit the news on Friday and on the day of the wedding it was at the back of our minds.
“It’s not the ideal start we were looking for. We’re trying not to let anything get us down and we’re going to go for it and see what happens.”
Darren Bain, 30, from Fraserburgh has hit out after his family, including 22-week pregnant wife Nicole, found out they would miss out on their seven-day package holiday trip to Gran Canaria.
The family, including son Jason, 9, and Naomi, 6, had booked the holiday through Thomas Cook last year for October. Darren, who works as a fitter in Kintore, said: “We had booked it last year, and two weeks before it we now find it is cancelled. It is so frustrating.
“I spoke to an online advisor at Thomas Cook on Friday and was told that everything was fine and the holiday would be going ahead and not to worry about it.
“Now we are having to explain to our children that the holiday they were really
looking forward to is now not going to happen.
“We don’t know how quickly we will get a refund as we’ll possibly look to book elsewhere. This is hassle we don’t need as my wife is 22-weeks pregnant.
“The last three times we have gone to Gran Canaria we have booked through First Choice and flown from Aberdeen. We are kicking ourselves because we chose to fly from Glasgow this time because it was a bit cheaper.
“You never think something like this is going to happen.”
CAA has set up a dedicated website to help Thomas Cook customers at thomascook.caa.co.uk
The Department for Transport (DfT) said all customers currently abroad with Thomas Cook who are booked to return to the UK over the next two weeks will be brought home as close as possible to their booked return date.
Thomas Cook package holiday customers will also see the cost of their accommodation covered by the Government, through the Air Travel Trust Fund or Atol scheme, the DfT said.