Thomas Cook fatcats pocketed £47m in pay and perks from doomed travel giant before collapse that left 150,000 Brits stranded


THOMAS Cook bosses raked in £47million from the doomed travel giant before it collapsed leaving 150,000 Brits stranded, it has been reported.

Chief executive Peter Fankhauser took home £8.4million since 2014, including £4.6million bonus payments.

Peter Fankhauser is the current chief executive of Thomas Cook
Georgios Makkas/Panos Pictures

 Passengers wait to be helped at Palma airport after Thomas Cook airline canceling their flights, in Palma, Balearic Islands, Spain

Passengers wait to be helped at Palma airport in the Balearic Islands, Spain[/caption]

What we know so far…

  • Thomas Cook has collapsed into administration after failing to secure a last-ditch rescue deal
  • Thousands of Brits stranded abroad as they battle nine-hour queues and forced to sleep on airport floors
  • The first of 150,000 British holidaymakers returned home yesterday at the start of a £100m two week repatriation – the largest since World War Two
  • Customers due to fly out of the UK with Thomas Cook yesterday were told to stay at home
  • As many as 9,000 British employees among 21,000 staff around the world stand to lose their jobs
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson says directors should be personally held to account
  • Thomas Cook fatcat bosses raked in £47million in pay and perks since 2007

The travel giant collapsed with debts of £1.6billion, leaving  21,000 staff –  including 9,000 based in the UK – out of work and 150,000 holidaymakers stranded abroad.

Honeymooners, soon-to-be wed couples and customers worrying about running out of medication are just some of the hundreds of thousands of people now stuck finding another way back to the UK.

Hotel staff in Spain have threatened to call police on a couple who have been told to pay an extra £1,100.

Stranded holidaymakers were forced to sleep on the floor at airports overnight as tearful Brits broke down in tears.

Boris Johnson called for the company’s bosses to held personally to account as furious customers accused the fatcat bosses of being “rewarded for failure”.

A breakdown of figures shows five chiefs took home nearly £47million since 2007.

Peter Fankhauser

Georgios Makkas/Panos Pictures

He shares a lavish Surrey property with his wife Raffaella Cassani and two of his three children, which is rented for about £6,000 a month[/caption]

The 58-year-old has been chief executive at Thomas Cook since 2015, during which time he has pocketed an annual salary of up to £725,000.

With his bonuses of £4.6million, he took more than £8.4milion out of the failed company, the Daily Mail’s breakdown shows.

He shares a lavish Surrey property with his wife Raffaella Cassani and two of his three children, which is rented for about £6,000 a month.

Swiss national Fankhauser went into the travel businesses after his dad prevented him from becoming a fighter pilot in the country’s air force.

He was praised for rejecting the advice of lawyers to meet the parents of Christi and Bobby Shepherd, aged six and seven, who died while on a Thomas Cook holiday in Corfu in 2006.

Harriet Green

Harriet Green came in for criticism about the handling of the inquests into Christi and Bobby Shepherd
Getty – Contributor

Harriet Green was Thomas Cook’s chief executive between 2011 and 2015 and once described herself as a “landa” – combining the fierce qualities of a lion and the placid nature of a panda.

She took home almost £11million in total pay and in 2015 alone, she received £6.3million, despite only working for two months of that financial year.

During her time at the company she was on a salary of up to £687,000 a year and was given £7.9million in bonuses.

Her tenure was marred by controversies over the inquest of Christi and Bobby Shepherd and she was labelled a “greedy, shameless woman” for her handling of the crisis.

Green agreed to pay a third of a £5.6million bonus to charities chosen by the Christi and Bobby’s parents.

Questions and answers

Q: I am still on holiday. Can I carry on and how do I get home?

A: Under the Civil Aviation Authority ATOL scheme all package hol customers can carry on and will be flown home as close to their original date as possible. See or call 0300 303 2800 (UK and Ireland) or +44 1753 330 330 (when abroad).

Q: What if my hotel wants cash?

A: Refuse. Hotels need to contact ATOL themselves. If you do have to pay, keep all receipts and you will be reimbursed under ATOL. You can also claim for expenses.

Q: What if I only bought flights?

A: Normally you do not get ATOL protection but the CAA says everyone will be brought home.

Q: I’ve booked but haven’t travelled yet. What happens to my holiday?

A: You are also covered and will get a refund, but it will take time.

Q: My booked hol does not include a flight. Am I still covered?

A: Not by ATOL. Advice on what to do at

Manny Fontenla-Novoa

Under the Spanish-British businessman’s leadership, the company’s share price tumbled drastically  between 2007 and 2011.

Investors were outraged when the 65-year-old walked away with a massive bonus in 2011, taking his total pay over his five-year stint to £16.8million

Frank Meysman

The 67-year-old became chairman in 2011 and has been paid £275,000 a year.

In summer last year it was reported the veteran had been looking to leave Thomas Cook but a replacement had not been found.

He earned £2.2million in salary and benefits between 2012 and 2018.

Michael Healey

The 69-year-old accountant was chief financial officer from 2012 to 2017.

He took home a total of £8.3million between 2012 and 2018 in salary and bonuses.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson asked why the directors should be allowed to pay themselves “large sums of money” as their business went “down the tubes”.

The Prime Minister said it was vital that in future tour firms were stopped from “simply going belly up then requiring the taxpayer to bring everybody home”.
The air rescue, Britain’s biggest peacetime repatriation, is set to cost more than £75million as the Government charters 45 jets.

Fankhauser lives in this £2million Surrey mansion
The Thomas Cook chief executive shares it with his wife and children

Rash decisions were a ticket to oblivion

For more than 178 years, Thomas Cook was a byword for holidays.

Yet it took little more than a decade for the company to spiral into the crippling debt that destroyed the travel giant.

Its demise was set in motion by a series of catastrophic business decisions — starting with the 2007 merger with rival holiday firm MyTravel, owner of Airtours.

No sooner had the deal been done by then CEO Manny Fontenla-Novoa than cracks appeared.

MyTravel was far weaker than thought and debts began to rack up. Just a few years later, Fontenla-Novoa was instrumental in another disastrous merger with the Co-op’s travel business.

It was a crazy decision to expand its high street presence as customers were booking online.

Combined, the two had more than 1,200 high street agencies.

Slowly, the company began to slim down. When it went bust yesterday, just 560 stores remained after closures and redundancies.

Then came the seismic effects of terrorism. The Arab Spring and subsequent atrocities in Egypt and Tunisia hit Thomas Cook hard.

Their strongest markets were closed when in 2015 the Foreign Office banned travel to Tunisia after the slaughter of 30 Brits in the resort of Port El Kantaoui.

Meanwhile, its rival TUI, the UK’s largest operator, was attracting customers with exclusive holidays. And while the company was restructuring, it perhaps took its eye off its Northern heartland.

Slowly, surely, began offering flights and package trips from a host of regional airports.

Thomas Cook’s website’s transformation was too little too late.

By May of this year, the company posted a £1.5billion loss, with more than £1billion written off from that MyTravel merger.

The failure to secure £200million tipped Thomas Cook over the edge. But it was the group’s rash business decisions and inability to move with the times that shut the oldest and best-loved travel brand.

The Sun Says

OUR hearts go out to those stranded by Thomas Cook and the staff now out of work.

We are repulsed by the greed of the bosses who made terrible decisions for years, lurching from crisis to crisis.

They must be held accountable.

Rewards for failure are damaging capitalism’s image faster than anything.

But it is bonkers to argue this company should have been bailed out with public money.

It has catastrophic debt and no business model in the web era.

Times change. Some firms fail.

That’s neither the Government’s fault nor its responsibility.


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