Thomas Cook's demise 'cast a shadow' over travel industry, warns Hartlepool trade leader

A TRAVEL trade leader has warned the demise of Thomas Cook has “cast a shadow” over the industry – despite other firms picking up the slack.

Monday, 7th October 2019, 1:05 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 5:58 pm

Roderick Thompson, from Hartlepool’s Regent Travel, revealed his firm had “queues out the door” soon after the 178-year-old travel giant went under last month.

But the North-east chairman of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said the company’s failure had sparked widespread concern at the latest Teesside Airport consultative committee.

Mr Thompson said: “I don’t think anyone in the travel trade was pleased to see it happen – we all have friends and colleagues in Thomas Cook and a lot of people have lost their jobs.

“For my own company, we had a queue out the door on the Monday morning.

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“We got a lot of Thomas Cook clients fixed up on alternative holidays.

“By the Tuesday, prices for alternative flights and arrangements were really starting to shoot up – a lot of people criticised that, but it was just supply and demand I’m afraid.”

Thomas Cook liquidation triggered a mass repatriation of 150,000 passengers by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The final repatriation flight touched down in the UK on Monday (October 7).

The company also operated around 600 UK high street stores, including in Middlesbrough, Redcar, Stockton and Teesside Park.

An inquiry into the firm’s collapse has been launched by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee – a panel sat on by Redcar MP Anna Turley.

The managing director of Regent Travel said Thomas Cook’s demise hadn’t come as a complete surprise – and blamed its failure on “years of mismanagement” and “not moving with the times”.

Mr Thompson added: “Brexit has not helped because there is a general depression in the whole of the trade with business rather quiet.

“We’re quite concerned – it has cast a shadow over the whole industry.

“People are asking if the biggest name can fail, who is the next to go?”

Panel secretary David Cosgrove said the wider impacts of the firm’s collapse would “rumble on for quite some time”.

“Some airports are losing up to 1 in 10 passengers due to that failure – those gaps will start to be picked up by other airlines no doubt,” said Mr Cosgrove.

“When Monarch collapsed in 2017, it took Manchester Airport only six months to build back that capacity left behind by Monarch.

“The Thomas Cook gap will no doubt be picked up somewhere along the line.”

Holidaymakers who bought a package holiday with Thomas Cook are covered by the “Air Travel Organiser’s Licence scheme (Atol) – which means the costs of any holiday booked with the firm will be refunded.

The CAA is handling the refund process and says it will take 60 days for people to get their money back.

At the meeting, Mr Thompson praised the role of the CAA in bringing passengers home.

But he called on the government to do more in future to bring travellers home.

Mr Thompson added: “After the Monarch collapse, the government commissioned a review which strongly recommended that all passengers, including those with a flight only, be financially protected.

“Nothing has happened about that unfortunately because of Brexit – but we’re really seeking action on that now to have a level playing field in the travel industry.”