The UK Civil Aviation Authority confirmed on Monday the tour operator, one of the oldest and largest in the world, had “ceased trading with immediate effect” after last-minute negotiations failed to save it.
An emergency operation codenamed Operation Matterhorn will aim to bring home about stranded 150,000 British tourists in what is believed to be the biggest peacetime repatriation operation in British history, the BBC reports.
But while there are currently around 600,000 Thomas Cook customers on holidays around the world and eagerly awaiting information on how they will get home, 22,000 workers have a far sadder journey ahead.
Taking to Twitter, hundreds of Thomas Cook employees — including cabin crew, pilots and ground staff — have vented their heartbreak and devastation over losing their jobs with the travel company.
“I just want to be able to do my job tomorrow,” Twitter user Lily, a 25-year-old travel agent, posted on social media.
“I can’t sleep thinking about my #thomascook family”.
Sabrina, who worked as an air host for the company, said she was “beyond devastated” by the sudden news.
“You were an amazing airline to work for!,” she wrote in a post on Twitter. “I am beyond devastated that it has come to an end … however now jobless and no income its time to move onwards and upwards.”
Sabrina’s boyfriend, Ben Simmons, made a heartbreaking tribute to his girlfriend and other Thomas Cook employees, who woke up on Monday to learn the 179-year-old travel provider had folded.
“My girlfriend was a flight attendant with #ThomasCook, she has worked her arse off doing flights at ungodly hours,” Mr Simmon’s post read.
“To lose her job and wage over night, as have many others … My heart goes out to all of you left unemployed … good luck.”
His post has been met with hundreds of likes and comments, with many posting about their loved ones no longer having a job.
My girlfriend was a flight attendant with #ThomasCook, she has worked her arse off doing flights at ungodly hours, to lose her job and wage over night, as have many others.— batman (@bensimmons16) September 23, 2019
I'm proud of her!
My heart goes out to all of you left unemployed... good luck.#thomascookairlines pic.twitter.com/9weQrzVtad
Louise Rudkin, who works as a cabin crew member, said she had been “sick with worry” ahead of the announcement, claiming the company had failed to inform staff of their fate.
“None of us have heard anything (about the collapse),” she posted on Twitter. “Unless you count an email about how I can save money on energy by buying it through them.
“I just want to add that at no point has our union been in touch with any of its staff, who has been paying them monthly for years for their help and support.”
Shannon posted a photo to her Instagram in her Thomas Cook uniform, saying she was “heartbroken” her “travel career with TC” had come to an end.
“I never thought yesterday morning would be the last time I wore my uniform proudly and I have never wanted to wake up and be able to go to work on a Monday so much in my life,” she wrote alongside the selfie.
“Finding out your fate on the news is so sad. This doesn’t seem real our livelihood has been took over night. Love to all TC staff.”
Natalie, who has worked for the travel company for nine years, said she was also “heartbroken” by the news, and devastated to find out about the loss of her job through the media.
“I am in tears! Absolutely heartbreaking! I love my job … I am in tears,” she wrote, noting an email dropped shortly after the liquidation news was made public.
Thomas Cook, which at 179 years old is one of the world’s oldest travel providers, serves about 19 million customers a year in 16 countries.
In a statement, Thomas Cook said the company’s board “concluded that it had no choice but to take steps to enter into compulsory liquidation with immediate effect”.
“It is a matter of profound regret to me and the rest of the board that we were not successful,” the company’s chief executive Peter Fankhauser said.
“I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners who have supported us for many years. Despite huge uncertainty over recent weeks, our teams continued to put customers first, showing why Thomas Cook is one of the best-loved brands in travel.
“Generations of customers entrusted their family holiday to Thomas Cook because our people kept our customers at the heart of the business and maintained our founder’s spirit of innovation.
“This marks a deeply sad day for the company which pioneered package holidays and made travel possible for millions of people around the world.”
While thousands of employees have woken up to the news they no longer have a job with the travel company, even more travellers have been left in the lurch by the sudden downfall.
Chloe Hardy, from Leicestershire, UK, and her partner spent about $60,000 on a destination wedding on the Greek island of Zante next month.
They booked the wedding package with Thomas Cook in June last year and now have no idea what will happen.
“We are due to fly out on Thursday,” Ms Hardy told The Sun.
“Our wedding is costing almost £12,000 ($A22,120) with things we have bought here, the wedding package, everything we have organised with the resort wedding co-ordinator.”
Ms Hardy said she and her partner had arranged to fly 33 relatives to the Zante for the wedding.