Administrators for collapsed airline Flyglobespan said they have had to make a large number of redundancies.
Out of the 650 workers at the Edinburgh-based firm, 550 are now without a job.
Bruce Cartwright from administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) said there was no choice other than to cease flights and make redundancies.
He said that everything was being done to ensure that 4,500 stranded holidaymakers would be brought home.
All flights were cancelled after Flyglobespan's parent company, Globespan, entered administration on Wednesday at 1700 GMT.
Passengers are currently stranded in Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Egypt.
Bruce Cartwright of PricewaterhouseCoopers said they would endeavour to make sure that "nobody would be left stranded anywhere".
About 1,000 passengers who had booked package holidays and were currently abroad would be brought home under the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (Atol) insurance arrangement scheme.
The remaining 3,500 stranded passengers will have to make their own way back to the UK using alternative airlines.
Bruce Cartwright is joint administrator of Globespan
Mr Cartwright said that in less than 24 hours good progress on repatriation had been made.
He thanked Virgin for stepping in to take home, free of charge, 60 cabin crew currently stuck in India.
The administrator added that he had spent most of the day with Globespan staff in Edinburgh. He said employees had acted with "great dignity".
Mr Cartwright said: "They have behaved incredibly well considering this has come so close to Christmas."
At a news conference in Edinburgh, he went on to explain that although the company's directors had not wanted to appear publicly they had offered their full co-operation.
He said he was asked on behalf of the directors to thank the Scottish public for supporting them over the last 35 years and to thank employees.
Mr Cartwright said: "They [the directors] did everything they could to achieve a more favourable outcome than they see today."
About £30m was owing to the Globespan group by the company holding its credit card transaction payments, according to Mr Cartwright.
He said that about half of the money paid by passengers could be re-paid.
Two helplines have been set up for passengers due to the number of calls received.
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