Fife MP brands collapse of Thomas Cook a “hellish situation”

Pic Lisa Ferguson
Pic Lisa Ferguson

Kirkcaldy MP, Lesley Laird, has branded the collapse of travel agent Thomas Cook “a hellish situation” – and said the Government should have stepped in to bail it out.

She said the scale of the operation to get 150,000 holidaymakers home– the largest ever peacetime repatriation in UK history – “could have been wholly avoided” had there been an intervention.

The company collapsed into liquidation after failing to find £200m to stay afloat.

Thomas Cook employs some 22,000 people worldwide, and has 150,000 people abroad on holiday.

Locally it has stores in Kirkcaldy’s High Store as well as the Kingdom centre Glenrothes and in St Andrews.

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Peter Fankhauser, chief executive, said the firm’s collapse was a “matter of profound regret”.

He also apologised to the firm’s “millions of customers, and thousands of employees”.

Ms Laird said: ““We’re now grappling with a hellish situation where customers who, despite government orders to the CAA to offer free travel, could still face a wait of up to two weeks abroad before they catch a plane back to the UK.

“What sense led this government to simply let the chips fall? £250m is a lot of money, yes, but it’s a whole lot less than the £600m reported cost of this mess.

“I’d like to pay tribute to Thomas Cook staff for their professionalism in such bitter circumstances and I’ll be ensuring all available redeployment and pension assistance is offered to them.”

The CAA’s special Thomas Cook website has the latest information for customers who are abroad or were due to fly out. It can be viewed HERE