The repatriation of foreign tourists who had arrived on holiday in Bulgaria on flights of the now-defunct Thomas Cook holiday firm has begun, Bulgarian National Radio said on September 24, quoting the Black Sea airports at Varna and Bourgas.
More than 500 people departed on three flights of other airlines, to London and Manchester.
A small group of tourists wa about to be transported from Bourgas to London, and other holidaymakers were considering whether to return temporarily to the hotels where they had been accommodated.
Varna Airport said that only one Thomas Cook flight had been scheduled up to October 1.
There were 10 flights scheduled at Bourgas Airport, and currently there were discussions about which other airline would carry the passengers, the report said.
British embassy figures as at September 23 were that there were about 2500 Thomas Cook customers in Bulgaria.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) flying programme completed 64 flights on the first day of operation, returning the first 14 700 people to the UK, the CAA said on September 24. Thomas Cook customers are reminded to check the dedicated website for further information – thomascook.caa.co.uk.
“With 13 days remaining and approximately 135,300 passengers still to bring back to the UK, we are working around the clock, in conjunction with the government and the aviation industry, to deliver the flying programme after Thomas Cook ceased trading,” the CAA said.
On September 24, day two of the flying programme, the CAA planned to operate a further 74 flights, with seats for more than 16 800 people to travel back to the UK.
Bulgaria’s Tourism Minister was meeting tour operators, hotel owners, consumer protection officials and representatives of the UK embassy on September 24 to discuss the consequences of the Thomas Cook bankruptcy. A briefing would be held after the meeting, the ministry said.
On September 23, Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova said that the Thomas Cook bankruptcy would have grave consequences for Bulgaria’s 2020 tourist season.
Thomas Cook had been bringing between 350 000 and 450 000 tourists to Bulgaria every summer in recent years, Angelkova said.
Bulgarian media said on September 24 that Thomas Cook owed millions to hotels at Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.