CUSTOMERS who have booked charter holidays with Thomas Cook will be offered a refund or an alternative package if they are due to travel after April 30.
The travel agency, which until yesterday sold charter holidays on its own planes to Irish customers through its website, has confirmed it intends to pull out of selling these trips in Ireland.
From the end of April, it will stop providing charter holidays out of this country, although it will still sell unchartered trips online. They will be handled from the UK and use other operators' and airlines' planes.
Anybody who has already booked a holiday from May onwards can claim a refund or a 10pc discount on an alternative package. Chartered holidays scheduled to depart before April 30 will not be affected.
The firm -- Europe's second biggest travel agency after TUI Travel -- plans to close its Irish support office. It employs 44 staff at Parkwest Business Park in Dublin 12.
It is proposing that this office close at the end of May, and its business instead be managed from the UK. There will be a 30-day consultation period before the decision is final.
The company said the Irish leisure travel market has moved away from charter products over the past six years.
It added that it wanted to deal more directly with consumers, since most of its Irish customers currently book through third-party agencies.
Other structural and economic factors in the Irish market also led to the move, it said.
"Thomas Cook retain a strong presence in the Irish travel market," said a spokesperson.
"This move exclusively online is right for the Thomas Cook Group and our customers in Ireland at this time," said Thomas Cook UK & Ireland managing director Reto Wilhelm
"However, we fully appreciate the impact this decision will have on our Dublin-based employees.
"We are committed to doing everything that we can to support the team over the coming weeks should our proposal to enter a consultation process go ahead."