Tour operator Thomas Cook has confirmed that it needs £200m to avoid the possibility of going bust. 

Were the company to go under, an estimated 180,000 people could be stranded abroad, while the firm employs 22,000 staff around the world.

The company  is seeking the extra funding as it attempts to prevent a collapse and is in talks with leading shareholder Chinese firm Fosun, to bridge the funding gap.

Up to 9,000 UK jobs could be at risk and if Thomas Cook goes into administration, the government could have to pay to fly British holidaymakers back home. 

It would become the 'Britain's biggest peacetime repatriation'.

Reading Chronicle:

Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots' union Balpa, said: "This puts 9,000 good quality UK jobs needlessly at risk and puts an iconic British brand in jeopardy.

"The Government has a say in this, owning one of the key banks and still with huge influence over the other. RBS and Lloyds should be told by the Prime Minister to support Thomas Cook.

"If Thomas Cook goes into administration it will cost the taxpayer as much to repatriate holidaymakers as it would cost to save Thomas Cook.

"The Government sat on the sidelines wringing its hands when Monarch Airlines was let down by its financiers. This time Government needs to get a grip and do its bit to save Thomas Cook."

Thomas Cook said the £200 million needed would be a "seasonal standby facility", on top of £900 million it had already raised from Fosun and its lenders.

The travel firm has suffered recently as a result of mounting debts, reporting a £1.2 billion net debt in its half-year results in May.

It has also been hit hard by an influx of online competitors which has resulted in oversupply, forcing tour operators to cut prices.

The 178-year-old firm could go bust by Sunday, company insiders have allegedly told the Daily Mail.

The paper also said that government officials have drawn up plans for what would be "Britain's biggest peacetime repatriation".