About 12 staff hit by closure

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Mid Ulster has been hit hard by the collapse of Thomas Cook Travel with offices closed in Cookstown and Magherafelt.

Around a dozen people are believed to have been employed at the firm’s offices in William Street and Queen Street.

Both offices have been providing a service to the local community for more than 20 years.

In addition to being a devastating blow to the workforce, it is also a worrying time for holiday makers who are currently overseas awaiting repatriation and those who have booked holidays with Thomas Cook.

Cookstown Ulster Unionist Councillor Trevor Wilson extended his sympathy to the local workforce.

“It’s terribly sad for all involved, especially the workforce who have provided the community with a service for so long,” he said.

“I also feel for anyone who is abroad and waiting to get a flight home.”

The store closures will also contribute to the growing number of empty shop units in each town.

The 178-year-old tour operator “ceased trading with immediate effect” at 2am on Monday putting 22,000 jobs at risk worldwide.

The tour operator is understood to have employed more than 100 staff at 23 stores across Northern Ireland.

About 6,000 holidaymakers from Northern Ireland are among 150,000 people who must be brought home amid uncertainty over future holiday plans.

The first repatriation flight to Belfast International Airport took place from Turkey on Monday night.

It is expected that there will be two repatriation flights each day for a fortnight to bring home passengers left stranded as a result of the collapse.

The travel firm had operated from the airport for the past 30 years with 14 flights each week to Turkey, Spain and Cyprus.

Within hours of the firm’s collapse Thomas Cook branding had already been removed from check-in desks at Belfast International.