“I have been awake for 28 hours now,” Mr. Roche, a 30-year-old civil engineer, said in a message on Monday, as he and Ms. Wells, 31, were on their way to Birmingham to seek an alternative flight.
The Britons stranded on holidays were among as many as 600,000 vacationers left high and dry worldwide. Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement that it had arranged 60 flights to get people home on Monday, and that the effort would extend until Oct. 6. It was unclear whether citizens of other countries could expect similar help.
“We will try our level best to get them home,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “There will be plans ready to deal with that if it is necessary.”
If Thomas Cook’s customers were surprised, British officials had less reason to be. The government had refused to mount a financial rescue of the battered company; doing so, Mr. Johnson said, would create a “moral hazard” by encouraging other troubled companies to take undue risks.
It was unclear, however, what steps, if any, the government took to prepare for the possibility of hordes of stranded travelers.
Tremors from the collapse radiated across the world, to Malaysia and San Francisco, but were felt most acutely in Europe. In Greece, where 50,000 vacationers were expected to be repatriated to their home countries in the coming days, and in Spain, there were fears about the effects on their critical tourist industries.
Thomas Cook Travel Company Collapses, Stranding Thousands – The New York Times