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Thomas Cook: UK government will try to recover repatriation costs

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Thomas Cook: UK government will try to recover repatriation costs
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REUTERS/Umit Bektas
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The UK will try to recover the cost of repatriating tens of thousands of Thomas Cook customers, said Secretary of State and Transport Grant Shapps.

"We have entered into discussions with third parties with a view to recovering some of the costs of this large operation," he told MPs during the first session of parliament after prorogation was ruled unlawful.

Shapps said talks would be held with industry insurance scheme ATOL, the relevant credit and debit card providers, as well as suppliers of travel insurance passengers could have taken out for their trips.

"We are also in discussions with the official receiver (the person or company that manages at least the first stage of bankruptcies) to understand what costs can be recouped through the company's assets," he said.

Shapps said that he would examine if airlines could be wound down in a more structured way in case of collapse for future cases.

"We need to look at the options, not just in ATOL, but also whether it is possible for airlines to be wound down in a more orderly manner," he said.

"We need to be able to ensure that their planes can keep flying in order that we don't have to set up a shadow airline," he added.

How many people have been repatriated so far?

Shapps said repatriation flights for all Thomas Cook passengers were to be provided free of charge.

Arrangements had been made to bring 150,000 people back from 50 different countries, using 1,000 flights by the UK's specialist aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, he added.

A total of 16,500 passengers were being repatriated on Wednesday using 70 flights, he said

"So far, 95% of people have been repatriated back to their original point of departure," he added.

Around 600,000 people were left stranded abroad with the tourism company, which ran hotels, resorts, and airlines for 19 million customers a year, when it collapsed in the early hours of Monday.

The Civil Aviation Authority launched the largest peacetime repatriation on Monday to bring people back to Britain.