Airlines that go bankrupt in the future will have their aircraft seized by the government and used to bring home stranded holidaymakers under new laws designed to save UK taxpayers millions.

The collapse of Thomas Cook in October triggers a £100 million operation by the CAA to repatriate almost 150,000 stranded tourists on a fleet of 62 chartered aircraft. But, the expense has raised questions over why it was unable to use Thomas Cook’s crew and fleet of aircraft.

British ministers were accused of failing to learn the lessons from the 2017 collapse of Monarch Airlines. A review at the time called for reform to allow insolvent airlines to continue flying for a short time to bring passengers home.

Now, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has stated to introduce new reforms. He said: “to bring over 140,000 Thomas Cook passengers home, the government and the UK CAA worked together round the clock and, with the support of people across the globe, carried out the biggest peacetime repatriation exercise in UK history.

“I’m determined to bring in a better system to deal with a similar situation in future [and] bring in airline insolvency reforms as quickly as possible.”

A Department for Transport spokesman added: “Being able to make use of existing assets and staff to get people home will help to cut the costs of these repatriation efforts when they occur, make repatriation efforts when they occur, make repatriation easier to deliver and also reduce the disruption felt by passengers.”

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