THE two-week operation to carry out the UK's largest peacetime repatriation has been launched after travel giant Thomas Cook collapsed.

An estimated 150,000 tourists are being brought home by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in a flight programme costing £100 million.

Thomas Cook ceased trading in the early hours of Monday morning after failing to secure a last-ditch rescue deal.

The company was unable to secure the extra £200 million needed to keep the business afloat following a full day of crucial talks with the major shareholder and creditors on Sunday.

All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have been cancelled.

Richard Moriarty, the chief executive of the CAA, said the Government had asked his organisation to launch "the UK's largest ever peacetime repatriation" which will involve flights from 53 airports in 18 countries.

Around 40 aircraft from as far away as Malaysia have been chartered to operate approximately 1,000 flights over the next two weeks.

LIVE: Thomas Cook collapse: Holidaymakers' return to take two weeks

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.

Unions representing Thomas Cook staff, of which there are 9,000 across the group in the UK, had previously urged the Government to intervene financially.

A million customers will also lose their future bookings, although with most package holidays and some flights-only trips being protected by the Atol scheme, customers who have not yet left home will be given a refund or replacement holiday.

READ MORE: Thomas Cook collapses with 150,000 left stranded on holidays

For those on holiday, the scheme will make sure they can finish their holiday and return home.

One of the world's oldest and largest travel companies, the firm had been trading for 178 years - having been established in 1841 by a cabinet maker who organised a day trip for temperance movement supporters.

As of this year the group employed 21,000 people in 16 countries, operated 105 aircraft and 200 own-brand hotels and resorts.

Shares in travel companies rose this morning following the Thomas Cook news.

Tui saw its share price up as much as 8.4% at its highest since February, easyJet was up 6.1% and Ryanair was 2.6% higher, the three top gainers on the pan European STOXX 600 index.

International Consolidated Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways, saw it share price rise by 1.5% at 485.4p.

READ MORE: Thomas Cook: Everything you need to know as travel firm collapses

EasyJet said this morning: "We are sorry to see the news about Thomas Cook and appreciate the anxiety that their customers will be facing now.

“EasyJet is working with the CAA to provide a fully crewed A320 aircraft to support the repatriation efforts over the coming days.

“Customers can find out how to book on to the repatriation flights through the CAA website."

Peter Fankhauser, chief executive of Thomas Cook, said in his statement: "We have worked exhaustively in the past few days to resolve the outstanding issues on an agreement to secure Thomas Cook's future for its employees, customers and suppliers.

"Although a deal had been largely agreed, an additional facility requested in the last few days of negotiations presented a challenge that ultimately proved insurmountable.

"It is a matter of profound regret to me and the rest of the board that we were not successful. 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." 

MORE INFORMATION: Thomas Cook customers are advised to visit the CAA's dedicated website,, for more information about what they should do next.