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Tim Goode/PA Wire
UK News

Chaplains across UK help Thomas cook passengers

The company's shutdown has caused 150,000 UK holidaymakers to be brought home by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), over two weeks in a flight programme costing £100 million.

Just over half the Thomas Cook customers who were abroad when it collapsed on Monday have been flown back to the UK.

Yesterday the CAA operated 68 flights to bring back about 15,000 passengers.

At East Midlands Airport, the Revd John Dawson and his three colleagues worked a rota to ensure that they were on hand when government-funded repatriation flights from Egypt and Spain landed. "People are really distressed: firstly, because their holidays have been cut short, and then they had to wait a long time to get on a plane home," he said.

"They are pleased to have been repatriated, but were critical of how things were handled. They needed more help to sort out how they were getting back. Some had been delayed for up to ten hours, and weren't getting any information. If they had known what was happening, it would have taken a lot of the heat out of the situation, but it had spoilt their holidays. They were hot and bothered, wondering what was going to happen.

"This is a holiday airport; so we are geared up for this sort of thing. We offer someone they can talk to, help with contacts, offering a phone to ring relatives. We just sit them down, give them a cup of tea, and make sure they are OK. It just gives them a feeling that somebody cares, after a situation where they were really up for their holiday and it's all gone wrong. It was a hell of a shock for them."

At Manchester Airport, a base for Thomas Cook, the Revd George Lane worked with Foreign Office staff and representatives from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), aiding hundreds of holidaymakers as they landed on repatriation flights from Egypt, Europe, and the United States.

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