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Thomas Cook collapse: Bishop's Stortford travel agent sets up emergency team

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Bishop's Stortford's Premier Travel has set up an emergency team in the wake of the overnight collapse of holiday firm Thomas Cook, which has stopped trading after 178 years.

Planes from around the world have been drafted in to bring home more than 150,000 British tourists abroad in the biggest peacetime repatriation in UK history.

Thomas Cook employed 9,000 people in the UK – including its branch in the Jackson Square shopping centre in Bishop's Stortford – and 12,000 globally. Talks to try to secure a last-minute rescue deal failed overnight.

The flights will start operating today (Monday). The Government and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) aim to fly people as close as possible to their booked return date, so customers are strongly advised not to cut short their holiday or go to the airport without checking the website for information about their return journey.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, the MP for Welwyn Hatfield, said: "Thomas Cook’s collapse is very sad news for staff and holidaymakers.

"The Government and UK CAA is working round the clock to help people. Our contingency planning has helped acquire planes from across the world – some from as far away as Malaysia – and we have put hundreds of people in call centres and at airports.

"But the task is enormous, the biggest peacetime repatriation in UK history. So there are bound to be problems and delays. Please try to be understanding with the staff who are trying to assist in what is likely to be a very difficult time for them as well."

A million customers have been told they will lose their future bookings, however many will get refunds.

A 24-hour helpline has been set up for customers on 0300 303 2800.

Premier Travel, which has a branch in South Street in Stortford, has set up an emergency team at its head office in Cambourne, near Cambridge, to co-ordinate efforts to contact all its affected customers, both in resort and due to travel with Thomas Cook, to advise them of alternative arrangements.

All customers that have Thomas Cook bookings through Premier Travel are 100% financially protected.

Premier Travel have been monitoring the situation closely over the last few days and as such are fully prepared with details of customers currently overseas and those who are due to depart.

Director Paul Waters said: “Our customers and their travel plans are of the utmost importance to us at this time and our priority is communicating with them to reduce the impact of this failure.

"Our thoughts and best wishes go out to all of our colleagues and friends within the Thomas Cook Group at this time and all customers whose holidays are affected. Thomas Cook have been operating since 1841 and have been a huge supporter of independent travel agents since their inception and will be greatly missed.”

Customers with any concerns are asked to contact their local branch or phone 0800 3164 379.

Premier Travel, a privately-owned, independent travel agency, was founded in 1936 and has 21 branches in East Anglia and the South East.

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