Travel Agents

Nearly 2,000 Thomas Cook jobs saved, as company directors grilled by MPs

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

British travel agent network Hays Travel has offered jobs to nearly 2,000 ex-Thomas Cook employees.

The company, which bought all of Thomas Cook’s travel agencies out of liquidation, said it has made offers to 1,982 of the company’s former staff and reopened 186 of its shops, so far.

In an update, Hays Travel said it expects to have around 2,500 new colleagues joining the company soon.

“We have had a fantastic response to the news that we are keeping your favourite shops open, with the same lovely people to continue to give you excellent service and great value,” the company said in an update.

“The colleagues we have now welcomed into the Hays Travel family are really keen to get back to finding everyone the holiday of their dreams as soon as possible.”

Husband and wife John and Irene Hays, who own Hays Travel, bought Thomas Cook’s 555 high street shops in a surprise deal earlier this month.

The pair have previously said they can make a success of the business. This month, John Hays described the move as “a game-changer” for Hays Travel.

Thomas Cook execs front British committee inquiry

Former Thomas Cook CEO Peter Fankhauser

Thomas Cook’s executives faced heavy criticism from British MPs this week over the collapse of the world’s oldest travel company.

Fronting a Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) hearing chaired by economist and sitting MP Rachel Reeves, Thomas Cook’s executives were criticised for their failures.

Thomas Cook was accused of failing to cut its debt pile faster, failing to update its business model, failing to provide accounts that clearly showed its financial position, and failing to write off goodwill on its books sooner, The Guardian reported.

Reeves said the company’s directors were guilty of a “series of misjudgements” that saw to its failure; while the committee urged former CEO Peter Fankhauser to ‘do the right thing’ and return some of the bonuses he received during his time at the company, The Guardian reported.

“A travel company is a simple business at heart,” Reeves said, according to The Guardian.

“You send people on holiday, make sure they have a good time, and bring them back. Thomas Cook couldn’t get that right, so it failed – and that failure touched a lot of people a lot harder than it touched the five well-paid executives in front of the committee.

“You’ve all given your apologies,” Reeves continues. “But frankly, as seen time and time again on this committee, apologies are the easy bit. The hard bit is to resign from other directorships, and recognised you have a lot to learn.”

Reeves also reportedly pointed out that former Thomas Cook staff attending the committee had done so in their uniforms, showing their commitment to the company.

“They do your company proud, and you should reflect, Mr Fankhauser, what you can do to put something back and say sorry to the people whose jobs you have taken and whose holidays you have ruined.

“I hope you will go away and reflect on the huge salaries you have earned, and what you can do to put right what you’ve done wrong,” she adds.

British clawback rules mean that £558,000 ($1.06 million) of his 2017 bonus of £1.7 million ($3.27 million) could be seized by the insolvency service.

Thomas Cook executives reportedly raked in more than £20 million ($36 million) despite long-held fears about the company’s future.

Fankhauser maintained the company could have had a “bright future” under his leadership if the British government had not refused to support a £1.1 billion refinancing, as reported by The Guardian. 

Reeves also dismissed former Thomas Cook chairman Frank Meysman’s claim a “tragedy” occurred when the company went under after he attempted to pin some of the blame on the UK government’s refusal to provide a backstop.

“A tragedy though speaks of something that is out of your hands,” Reeves said.

“I don’t think this was out of the hands of the company. On the contrary, I would say that that the collapse of Thomas Cook was due to the decisions of the board, including you, Mr Meysman.”

It emerged during the hearing that Thomas Cook spoke to ministers from Germany, Spain, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Greece in its final days ­– but no one from Britain.

Meysman also reportedly blamed the 2018 heatwave, and Brexit uncertainty, for undermining its recovery plan.

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