British travel group Thomas Cook on Monday declared bankruptcy after failing to reach a last-ditch rescue deal, triggering the UK's biggest repatriation since World War II to bring back stranded passengers.
The 178-year-old operator had been desperately seeking £200 million ($250 million, 227 million euros) from private investors to save it from collapse.
"Despite considerable efforts, those discussions have not resulted in an agreement between the company's stakeholders and proposed new money providers," Thomas Cook said in a statement.
"The company's board has therefore concluded that it had no choice but to take steps to enter into compulsory liquidation with immediate effect."
The government said it had hired planes to fly home an estimated 150,000 holidaymakers to the UK, in an operation starting on Monday.
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