World News

Insolvency Service told to fast-track probe into Thomas Cook

Thousands of holidaymakers are left behind after first Operation Matterhorn airlift as hotels order stranded Brits to pay huge bills or face the police as 16,800 more people are to be flown home today

  • Thomas Cook went bust early yesterday morning leaving 156,000 stranded in 18 countries around the world
  • There are more than 1,000 repatriation Thomas Cook flights planned, and they will cost at least £100 million 
  • The rescue operation started yesterday, with 15,000 tourists flown home, and it will continue for two weeks
  • Operation Mattherhorn is attempting to bring back every single stranded Thomas Cook passenger to Britain

The Civil Aviation Authority says there is a long way to go to bring back 156,000 Brits who are stranded abroad as thousands were left behind yesterday when the £100million Operation Matterhorn rescue mission got underway. 

A total of 14,700 people flew home yesterday, with 16,800 people expected to be repatriated on 74 flights on today. 

Approximately 135,300 passengers are expected to be brought back to the UK over the next 13 days. The programme continues until Sunday October 6, with more than 1,000 flights planned.

Chair of the Civil Aviation Authority Dame Deirdre Hutton said the repatriation operation of Thomas Cook customers had got off to a ‘reasonable start’.

Stranded British holidaymakers are pictured boarding a plane in Palma last night as thousands were flown back to the UK after insolvency of Thomas Cook

Pictured: People sleep on the floor at Dalaman Airport in Turkey as the Brit who tweeted this shot claims his flight was changed three times only to finally be cancelled 

Passengers left stranded after the collapse of British travel firm Thomas Cook sleep at Punta Cana’s international airport, in the Dominican Republic, as repatriation flights begin

She told BBC Breakfast: ‘It’s a two-week operation, that’s mainly because people go on holiday for two weeks, so we want everybody to continue to enjoy their holidays and we’ll bring them back on the day they were going to come back anyway.’

One holidaymaker told The Sun that Thomas Cook hotel staff threatened to call the Spanish police if they don’t cough up their £1,100 bill.

Callum Weston, 27, and Bethany Sharp, 23, are staying at the Bahia De Lobos in Fuerteventura. Mr Weston said this morning: ‘I asked him “What are you going to arrest me on?”

‘I haven’t broken the law. He didn’t explain why the police would be involved – it was just a threat. The manager of the hotel said we could stay tonight without paying and hopefully tomorrow morning the issue will be resolved.’

Callum Weston and Bethany Sharp (pictured) say that they were threatened with police action in Spain if they didn’t pay their hotel bill 

Mr Weston – who got engaged to his partner at the start of the holiday – said she had been ‘devastated by the treatment. 

It came as Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom demanded an inquiry into the conduct of Thomas cook bosses leading up to the collapse. 

Liquidators will now see if any money can be found within more than 25 Thomas Cook companies to hand back to staff and creditors.  

While the mission to bring back 156,000 stranded holidaymakers is underway, some passengers were seen sleeping in airports as they awaited their rescue flights. 

Operation Mattherhorn is attempting to bring back every single stranded Thomas Cook passenger to Britain – from 18 different countries and 52 different airports around the world. There are more than 1,000 repatriation flights planned, which will cost at least £100 million to fund.  

Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the CAA, said the Government had asked his organisation to launch ‘the UK’s largest ever peacetime repatriation’. 

On Monday evening, the Prime Minister visited staff at the British consulate in New York City, who are working to bring stranded travellers home.

He tweeted: ‘It’s a tough time for those who have had holidays disrupted but team hard at work to support them. Thanks to all the staff who represent our country so well.’

Earlier in the day, Mr Johnson questioned whether directors should pay themselves ‘large sums of money’ as their businesses go ‘down the tubes’.

Speaking to reporters in New York, he said: ‘How can we make sure that tour operators take proper precautions with their business models where you don’t end up with a situation where the taxpayer, the state, is having to step in and bring people home?

However, some are on their way home, including these British passengers boarding an Airbus A380 airliner that is being used for transporting Thomas Cook customers at Dalaman Airport in south-west Turkey

‘I have questions for one about whether it’s right that the directors, or whoever, the board, should pay themselves large sums when businesses can go down the tubes like that.’

Questions over the multimillion pound sums received by the bosses of the firm prior to its collapse have dominated the headlines as the repatriation flights begin.

The conduct of the directors will come under the microscope as the Insolvency Services fast-tracks an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the company going into liquidation. 

The rescue effort started on Monday, when around 15,000 holidaymakers were flown home on an estimated 61 flights, after the travel company went bust, and will continue today

Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the CAA, said the Government had asked his organisation to launch ‘the UK’s largest ever peacetime repatriation’

Fed-up passengers bed down for the night after they are left stranded at Punta Cana’s international airport, in the Dominican Republic after the collapse of British travel firm Thomas Cook

British passengers wait in a bus before they board an Airbus A380 airliner that is being used for transporting Thomas Cook customers back to Britain from Turkey

The travel agent had about 550 high street locations across the UK, however, it leased its planes, rented its shops and acted as a broker with third-party hotels and cruise ships, meaning it has minimal assets.

Some staff on the final Thomas Cook journeys on Monday evening were informed mid-flight that they had been made redundant effective immediately.

Passengers on the Las Vegas to Manchester service had a whip-round in support of cabin crew and handed over two carrier bags of cash after learning that staff would not be getting paid.

Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, visited crew at Manchester Airport, and said some were owed up to three weeks’ wages.

However, other companies have stepped forward with offers of interview or work in an attempt to reach out to redundant staff.

Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet have both asked former Thomas Cook employees to register their interest for work opportunities, and Great Western Railway (GWR) and London North Eastern Railway (LNER) have both said they are looking for staff.

One of the world’s oldest and largest travel companies, Thomas Cook had been trading for 178 years – having been established in 1841 by a cabinet maker who organised a day trip for temperance movement supporters.

As of this year, the group employed 21,000 people in 16 countries, operated 105 aircraft and 200 own-brand hotels and resorts.

Thomas Cook customers are advised to visit the CAA’s dedicated website, thomascook.caa.co.uk, for more information about what they should do next.

Greed of the Thomas Cook fat cats: How high-flying bosses creamed off £47MILLION in pay and perks in the years before travel firm collapsed – leaving 156,000 stranded

Bosses at Thomas Cook pocketed a £47million pay bonanza as the firm headed for the rocks.

Last night, after the travel operator was dramatically declared bankrupt, furious customers demanded executives hand back some of their ‘rewards for failure’.

Boris Johnson also intervened, asking why directors had paid themselves large sums as the company went ‘down the tubes’.

Ministers have opened an investigation into how Thomas Cook sank under £1.6billion of debt.

Up to a million customers have seen their holidays thrown into chaos by the collapse of Thomas Cook. Many are unlikely to receive compensation (stock image)

Up to a million customers have seen their holidays thrown into chaos by the collapse of the 178-year-old firm. Many are unlikely to receive compensation.

The UK authorities yesterday began to fly home the first of the estimated 156,000 Britons stranded abroad. The operation – the country’s largest ever peacetime repatriation – will cost taxpayers an estimated £100million. Amid travel mayhem around the globe:

  • Despairing holidaymakers had to barricade themselves in hotel rooms after staff threatened to throw them out unless they personally paid thousands of pounds owed by Thomas Cook;
  • Others chose to flee their hotels after being hit with impromptu demands for huge bills they thought they had paid;
  • There were long delays at airports as the Civil Aviation Authority began the first stage of the repatriation operation;
  • Up to 500,000 Thomas Cook customers from other countries, mostly Germany and in Scandinavia, are also affected;
  • Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom asked the Insolvency Service to launch an investigation into the role of management in the collapse;
  • Rival airlines were accused by some customers of behaving like vultures by hiking their prices to cash in on desperate customers;
  • City investors who bet against the firm were set for a £250million windfall;
  • A row broke out over whether the Government should have intervened;
  • Some selfless Thomas Cook staff turned out to help customers, even though they had no prospect of being paid.

Thomas Cook folded in the early hours of yesterday putting 22,000 jobs at risk worldwide, including 9,000 in the UK and signalling the closure of more than 600 agency branches.

Peter Fankhauser, the Swiss chief executive taken on in the immediate years before its collapse yesterday, has taken home £8.4millon since 2014

A Daily Mail audit yesterday revealed that the three chief executives who have led the beleaguered firm since 2007 raked in more than £36.1million in pay and bonuses.

Peter Fankhauser, the Swiss chief executive taken on in the immediate years before its collapse yesterday, has taken home £8.4millon since 2014, including £4.6million in bonus payments linked to performance.

His predecessor Harriet Green, who ran the firm between 2012 and 2014 and faced controversy over an £80,000 yearly hotel and travel bill, took home almost £11million in total pay. In 2015 alone, she received £6.3million despite only working for two months of that financial year.

The most controversial payments were received by Manny Fontenla-Novoa. The Spanish-British businessman’s huge pay packages totalling £16.8million led the company to introduce internal ‘clawback’ measures in 2012

The businesswoman ultimately donated a third of a £5.6million share award to charities picked by the parents of Bobby and Christi Shepherd, who died of carbon monoxide on a 2006 Thomas Cook holiday in Corfu.

The most controversial payments were received by Manny Fontenla-Novoa, who saw the company’s share price drastically tumble under his leadership between 2007 and 2011.

The Spanish-British businessman’s huge pay packages totalling £16.8million led the company to introduce internal ‘clawback’ measures in 2012 that could see exaggerated bonuses recouped.

Meanwhile, Thomas Cook’s former chief financial officer, Michael Healey, took home a total of £8.3million between 2012 and 2018 in salary and bonuses. And non-executive chairman Frank Meysman earned £2.2million in salary and benefits between 2018 and 2012, totalling almost £47 million for the five.

The Prime Minister intervened during an interview at the British consulate general’s residence in New York. He said: ‘I think the questions we’ve got to ask ourselves now: how can this thing be stopped from happening in the future?

Harriet Green, who ran the firm between 2012 and 2014 and faced controversy over an £80,000 yearly hotel and travel bill, took home almost £11million in total pay

‘How can we make sure that tour operators take proper precautions with their business models where you don’t end up with a situation where the taxpayer, the state, is having to step in and bring people home?

‘I have questions for one about whether it’s right that the directors, or whoever, the board, should pay themselves large sums when businesses can go down the tubes like that.’

In a letter to the Insolvency Service, Miss Leadsom ordered scrutiny of ‘whether any action by directors has caused detriment to creditors or to the pension schemes’.

A senior government source said Thomas Cook’s bosses had ‘legitimate questions to answer’ about their stewardship of the company.

Tom Patrick, 69, from Cookstown, Northern Ireland, who was on holiday with his wife Valerie, was one of the devastated customers.

‘They ripped the company apart but they’ll be home and dry while their employees suffer and thousands of holidays are ruined,’ he said. ‘They shouldn’t get a penny of a performance-related bonus, by definition. You can’t reward failure on this scale with millions of pounds, it’s ridiculous.’ Lesley Mance, 29, from Reading, said: ‘I am furious they were paid so much when they were completely incapable of keeping the company afloat or avoiding this mayhem.’

The assistant accountant was threatened with eviction from her hotel in Tenerife if she did not pay almost £1,000 in additional fees owed by Thomas Cook.

She said: ‘If executives had any decency they would return the money to the people who are suffering because of their incompetence.’

Thomas Cook cabin crew member Elizabeth Telford, 56, from Newcastle, accused Mr Fankhauser of being blind to changes in a travel industry confronted with more choice in the internet age.

Hopes of recourse however were dashed last night after legal experts said that it was highly unlikely that bonuses would be paid back because there was no suggestion of criminality.

It emerged last night that Thomas Cook had been forced to introduce internal rules to curb bonuses in 2012.

‘Vultures!’ Rival travel companies – including Jet 2 and TUI – are accused of cashing in on Thomas Cook collapse by DOUBLING holiday prices within hours 

Rival travel firms have been accused of cashing in on the collapse of Thomas Cook after the price of package holidays surged overnight.

Around 160,000 British citizens are stranded overseas and thousands of others face cancelled holidays after the high street travel agent went bust early this morning.

But those looking to book breaks with rival firms say the prices have jumped massively in the last 24 hours. 

Some reported that the cost of their package trip had doubled after Thomas Cook collapsed and accused other companies of behaving like ‘vultures’.


Holiday customers saw a huge surge in prices with rival firms after Thomas Cook’s collapse

A week in Cyprus for a family of four with Tui was £1240 per person at 2pm today, £1297 3.30pm today. Seven nights in Sorrento with Jet2 was £788 yesterday night, £824 today. A flight from Manchester to Tenerife with Jet2 was £442 this morning, £808 this lunchtime, customers reported. A return flight from Bradford to Lanzarote with Jet2 was £164 this morning but £197 per person this lunchtime.

Customer Lara Anne Harper said a holiday to Greece she shortlisted on the Tui website jumped by £168 per person just during the time she was on the website.

She tweeted: ‘Lost our holiday with Thomas Cook. Decided to see what we can get from @TUIUK instead and in the time it took me to run through a few holidays and shortlist 10, I open up the shortlist to find almost every holiday price has increased over the last 20 minutes.’

A MailOnline reader said they were quoted £57 from Glasgow to Dalaman, Turkey with Jet2 last night, with the return flight at £260. Today, the flight our was £250 and the return is £413. 

Lesley Gillis claimed her planned holiday had more than doubled in price from £600 to £1,700. 

And a Thomas Cook customer booking replacement flights with Virgin Atlantic accused the airline of ‘making extra profit from people’s misery’ after the price increased by £150 as he was completing the transaction. 

Lyndsay McDonald tweeted Jet2 saying: ‘We had flights on screen at £375 to replace our Thomas Cook ones, get to payment page and within seconds had gone up to £570 each. Making money from this misfortune #jet2 #thomascook’

Olivia Howat tweeted: ‘Absolutely disgusting from @jet2tweets @Jet2Holiday within the space of an HOUR they’ve doubled the price of flights following the news of #ThomasCook collapsing. Yet another Typical greedy airline. #jet2’  

Scores took to Twitter this afternoon to complain about soaring prices

David Kirkwood posted screenshots on social media appearing to show how a Jet2.com holiday in Cyprus increased in cost by £800 between 7.30am and 11.30am on Monday.

He described the firm as ‘soulless’, ‘money grabbing’ and ‘opportunist’.

Another disappointed customer with the Twitter username @westmitc said he planned to book a holiday with the firm last night but waited until today as he had a question to ask, by which time the cost had increased by £248.

‘They’re taking the p*** because of Thomas Cook,’ he added.

A woman using the Twitter handle @cherrie2502 stated that she booked a Thomas Cook flight for £215 last week when a Jet2.com flight on the same route was £284, but the latter has now gone up to £511.

‘Way to go on price gouging,’ she added. 

Simon Kenworthy reported that flights he was looking at the Cancun in Mexico had increased from £299 to £319 in 12 hours. 

A Jet2 spokesman said: ‘Our pricing, as is common practice in the travel industry, is based on the principle of supply and demand. 

‘As supply reduces, an inevitable consequence is that prices increase. However, we are looking at adding more supply (flights and seats) to help customers at this time.’  

A spokesman for Tui insisted: ‘TUI uses a dynamic pricing model which means that our prices can go up or down. 

‘There are many variables which have to be taken in to account including peak dates of travel, regional airport differences and which channel our customers book through.’ 

Virgin Atlantic said in a statement: ‘We have not increased fares on specific routes that were previously also operated by Thomas Cook, nor have we changed any of our pricing policies since Thomas Cook ceased trading.

‘We always want to provide the most competitive prices for customers wishing to book future trips with us, and as with all airlines, we operate a dynamic pricing system that is based on availability and demand.’

Tui’s website was crashing this afternoon as those searching for getaways inundated the site

Tui could not field calls fast enough as worried Britons attempted to book holidays toda

Earlier today, Tui said they have been inundated with bookings and are struggling to field the high volume of calls.

Shares in Tui soared to above £9.00 this morning – its best price since February – after Thomas Cook confirmed it had ceased operations, with the loss of around 21,000 jobs.

Likewise, shares in Jet2 owner Dart Group jumped to £9.28, as investors assumed the competitors will pick up a large portion of Thomas Cook’s holiday traffic in the future. 

Thomas Cook’s 178-year history ended in ignominy for its wealthy bosses today, who have been paid more than £20million in bonuses alone over the past five years – despite the business creaking under £1.7billion in debt and a £500million pension deficit.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom has called for an urgent inquiry into the collapse and the actions of its bosses, including its Swiss chief executive Peter Fankhauser, who has pocketed £8.3million since taking over in 2014. Mr Fankhauser and his two predecessors took home almost £30 million in pay.

There were tears at Thomas Cook’s Peterborough headquarters today as 9,000 UK staff lost their jobs and were told they would not be paid this month after the world’s oldest travel operator went bust. 

Today a £100million taxpayer-funded fleet of 40 or more planes – temporarily making it the UK’s fifth biggest airline – is heading to cities and resorts across Europe, America, north Africa and Asia to bring 160,00 Britons home from more than 50 destinations including 50,000 people in Greece.

Britain’s biggest peacetime repatriation effort, codenamed Operation Matterhorn, will see around 16,000 people flown back to UK airports every day with the backlog taking a fortnight to clear. 

Thomas Cook cannot bring its own customers home because it has lost its licence and insurance to fly when it went bust – but some of its planes are being used by third parties to rescue those stuck abroad. 

There was chaos at airports in Majorca and Tunisia today where thousands of holidaymakers waited in crammed airports while others complained of being flown to Manchester or Birmingham when they needed to get to Glasgow, Gatwick or other UK hubs.

Bethany Main, 22, from Newcastle, who is travelling with her partner Rachel Usher 26 and her eight-year-old son back to the north-east from Palma airport, said: ‘It’s absolutely heaving. There must be 1,000 people there. Our flight has been delayed from just after 10am until 7.40pm tonight and it’s been redirected to Manchester and we don’t know how we’re going to get home from there.’ 



Peter Fankhauser, the Swiss chief executive, has taken home £8.3 million since he took the helm in 2014, including a £2.9m bonus in 2015. Former chief executive Harriet Green was awarded a share bonus worth £5.6million. Chairman Frank Meysman has been paid £1.6million since 2014

The company’s check-in desks at the 20-plus UK airports the business flew from are shut today with all customers with holidays and flights told they are cancelled – but many will not get their money back for months.  600 high street store are also locked up today with 21,000 jobs lost worldwide.  

This morning there were cheers and tears as Thomas Cook’s final flight touched down in Britain from Orlando after the travel company collapsed leaving huge numbers of Britons stranded abroad and a million more customers with cancelled holidays. 

Jason Ritchie, 50, who was on board, said: ‘We were just landing at Manchester Airport when the cabin crew announced that Thomas Cook had collapsed. 

‘I spoke to one of the cabin crew who said they’d heard nothing from head office, and hadn’t even spoke to their family – they had no idea where they stood with their jobs.  As we got off the plane, the captain was there to greet everybody and all the staff seemed very choked up over it all’.         

Source: Read Full Article