THE collapse of travel agent Thomas Cook has resulted in the closure of a local branch and lost holidays for residents.
The company went into liquidation on Monday with debts of around £1.7bn. As a result, the government is having to fly home around 155,000 customers from 18 countries across the globe in what has become the largest ever peacetime repatriation.
The Thomas Cook branch in Totton precinct was closed on Monday, with a sign on the door which read “This shop has been closed with immediate effect. All customer enquiries should be directed to the website.”
A branch in The Marsh, Hythe, had closed several weeks previously for reasons unknown.
Employee Lily Farminer, who had worked in the Hythe branch, told the A&T: “Working for Thomas Cook [and] in travel was a dream come true for many people, myself included.
“We continue to support each other through this difficult time and into our future journeys because we still are and always will be ‘one Thomas Cook’.”
It is estimated that around 22,000 jobs worldwide have been lost, with 9,000 in the UK alone.
Among customers affected are Carol and Clive Weatherill of Totton who were due to fly to Cuba on Tuesday and had spent £3,000 on the trip.
They were left “very upset” by the announcement, and Carol told the A&T: “We feel for all the staff who have lost their jobs and also for the people who have booked weddings [abroad].
“I feel the government could have done more to help them out, to at least try and keep a company with so many years history going.”
Carol added that she had been told the Civil Aviation Authority would be dealing with refunds for customers from next week, but that it could take up to three months to process.
Fiona McDonald, from Ashurst Bridge near Totton, has also been affected by the shock news. She was due to fly to Cologne in Germany with her teenage son on Friday and had spent over £900 on the weekend break.
She told the A&T: “I was shell-shocked to hear about Thomas Cook. My son should be playing in a Pokémon tournament [in Cologne]. He has been playing for two years and went to the world championships in Washington DC in August.
“He feels gutted about the situation.”