High-flying bosses creamed off £47 MILLION in pay and perks in the years before travel firm collapsed – leaving 156,000 stranded
From the Costas to Cuba: Thomas Cook passengers bed down in airports while the lucky few board planes home as Government’s £100m Operation Matterhorn to rescue 156,000 stranded holidaymakers begins
There are more than 1,000 repatriation flights planned, which will cost at least £100 million to fund.
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.
The other 150,000-plus tourists will be brought home over the next two weeks in a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) flight programme.
Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the CAA, said the Government had asked his organisation to launch ‘the UK’s largest ever peacetime repatriation’.
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.
The operation – the country’s largest ever peacetime repatriation – will cost taxpayers an estimated £100 million. 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 £250 million 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 putting 22,000 jobs at risk worldwide, including 9,000 in the UK and signalling the closure of more than 600 agency branches.
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 £8.4million 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 £11 million in total pay. In 2015 alone, she received £6.3million despite only working for two months of that financial year.