Skyteam Shot 2019-10-15 at 11_55_42(1).png

Published on Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Thomas Cook chiefs barred from speaking to ministers before collapse

Unions have accused the Government of a 'failure on a grand scale' over its decision to 'wash its hands' of Thomas Cook.

Unite, which represents airline workers, said it was shocked and angry after it was revealed today that transport secretary Grant Shapps had barred Thomas Cook directors from speaking directly to government ministers in the two weeks leading up to its collapse.

Giving evidence to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee, former CEO Peter Fankhauser said he met Shapps on the evening of Monday September 9.

He claimed that during this meeting he was told he could not directly contact any government ministers but must only communicate with senior Department for Transport officials.

He said Thomas Cook abided and remained hopeful of receiving a 'backstop facility' of a maximum of £200 million.

This would have allowed Thomas Cook to continue operating during the winter of 2021.

During that time, Thomas Cook held detailed negotiations with government ministers in Germany, Spain, Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria.

These governments were highly concerned about the impact the possible collapse of Thomas Cook would have on their tourism and transport industries, said Unite.

"Grant Shapps has a lot of questions to answer about his role in Thomas Cook's collapse," said Unite national officer for civil aviation Oliver Richardson.

"The way in which the government washed it hands of Thomas Cook is extraordinary and shocking.

"The 3,000 Unite members, the majority of whom worked for the profit making airline, will be angry that they were sacked without warning and without pay, yet no government minister was even prepared to sit down with the company to discuss potential assistance.

"While other governments throughout Europe were prepared to support parts of the Thomas Cook business and to seek to alleviate the damage faced by their tourism and transport industries, our government had installed barriers to prevent direct meetings.

"There is no evidence that the DfT was ever fully across the detail of what Thomas Cook needed to stay afloat or even to assist in separating the profitable parts of the business, to allow for their survival. This appears to be a governmental failure on a grand scale."

Meanwhile the British Airline Pilots Association said it also places significant blame with the UK Government who could have backed a temporary bridging facility to keep Thomas Cook going.

"We continue to support Thomas Cook pilots in finding new work but the scars of this collapse will no doubt run deep with them for many years to come," said BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton.

TSSA general secretary, Manuel Cortes, added: "The fact that no British Minister contacted Thomas Cook during the six days before its collapse is utterly damning.

"We can't have a Business Secretary that doesn't bat for Britain, doesn't lift a finger when 9,000 jobs are on the line. The public will be furious at this lack of action when the business could have been saved."

He called for Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom to be fired, saying her position was 'totally untenable'.

"What we have learned today shows that while our Government was prepared to write off this iconic British brand for ideological reasons alone several overseas Governments were more than willing to help.

"They believed in Thomas Cook - one has to ask - why did this appalling and inert Conservative Government not feel likewise?"

Story Image

Your Comments

, be the first to post a comment.
Your email:

Email other comments made to this story

NOTE: Comments are subject to admin approval before being posted.
  • Oh big surprise!

    It's hardly a surprise that Leadsom failed to do her job adequately - she should never have been given it. The only credential considered relevant to appointees of the current UK government was the degree of their fervour for leaving the EU. Viable experience or talent and technical or moral standards count for absolutely nothing. This IS the rabbit hole folks - enjoy the trip!

    By ex Severn, Wednesday, October 16, 2019

  • Public Furious

    For one I am glad that no bailout was made, if it had been the business would be back for more the next time times got tough. Perhaps an equivalent of Chapter 11 under USA law would have given the business a little more time

    By Paul Johnston, Wednesday, October 16, 2019

What is GoodtoGo? | Submission Form

GoodtoGo - Friday, April 3rd
UK Special Edition
USA Special Edition
Asia/Pacific Special Edition

GoodtoGo - Friday, March 27th
UK Special Edition
USA Special Edition
Asia/Pacific Special Edition

GoodtoGo - Friday, March 20th
UK Special Edition
USA Special Edition
Asia/Pacific Special Edition

Mole Poll
Are the UK Government doing enough to protect the Travel industry?
yes 49.56 %
no 50.44 %

Thank you for your vote


Centara Reserve, their first luxury resort, to open in Samui December 2020

Active Adventurers, Cultural Explorers, and Wellness Seekers in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah

Clearwater Marine Aquarium talks about Rescue Rehab Release and the future of Marine Life

Dana Young CEO and President of @visitflorida

The Mole talks to Mal Barrit the MD of @traveltek about expansion, tech and strategy