Leader comment: There is no travel insurance for the Thomas Cook employees

Within hours of the Thomas Cook collapse, accusations were surfacing about rival holiday firms cashing in by hiking their prices.

Meanwhile, the UK’s largest peacetime repatriation swung into action as the Civil Aviation Authority worked out how to bring 150,000 stranded tourists back home.

Families turned up at airports not knowing if they were going to get to go on holidays, other stories surfaced about honeymoons and weddings thrown into chaos.

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It is, however you look at it, an appalling situation, and our sympathies are with everyone affected.

Amid all the rolling coverage yesterday, however, one element appeared all but overlooked.

The fact that 21,000 people, 9,000 of whom are in the UK have not lost their holidays with Thomas Cook’s failure but their livelihoods.

While the £100 million Operation Matterhorn is bringing tourists home, another looming challenge for the governments in both London and Edinburgh will be the thousands now out of work.

The arguments over whether the UK Government was right to refuse a bail-out to the stricken travel giant will continue.

There are questions around what it knew when and whether it could have stepped in sooner to prevent catastrophe. There is further anger over the lack of scrutiny of its actions caused by the proroguing of parliament.

But none of that changes the simple fact that a 178-year-old business, a mainstay of the British high street for so long, has disappeared forever.

Once the immediate challenge of repatriation is complete, efforts have to turn to supporting the Thomas Cook employees into alternative employment as quickly as possible.

It is reassuring to see the Scottish Government has already made an offer of support through its Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) initiative, and the support available on a UK-wide scale should be far greater.

The thousands of holidaymakers caught up in the chaos can retain some comfort that their holidays were protected by law and they will be refunded, albeit they may face a long wait.

Others waiting to fly home, can be reassured that the Government will arrange alternative flights for them.

The thousands out of work as a result of Thomas Cook’s demise have no such reassurance today.