Thomas Cook Execs Could Be Stripped Of Controversial Bonuses, Says Grant Shapps

Peter Fankhauser, the company's CEO, pocketed £8.3 million in pay, benefits and bonuses between 2014 and 2018.

The government will examine whether millions of pounds paid in bonuses to Thomas Cook executives before the company collapsed this week can be recovered.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has suggested the money could be clawed back during the failed company’s insolvency process.

Shapps said the Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom has written to the Insolvency Service about bonuses and said they “do have powers” to do this.

He added: “The official receiver does have powers to require in certain circumstances the return of bonuses, and I absolutely agree with him that this needs to be fully looked into.”

The group’s annual report reveals Peter Fankhauser, who became Thomas Cooke’s CEO in late 2014, pocketed £8.3 million in pay, benefits and bonuses between 2014 and 2018 – including a mammoth £2.9 million share award in 2015.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson waded into the debate on Monday over how Thomas Cook failed, questioning how directors could pick up such large sums while their businesses go “down the tubes”, PA Media reports.

It has also emerged that Thomas Cook’s auditor Ernst & Young reportedly urged the travel firm last year to stop using an accounting method that could potentially have been used to boost its financial performance and increase executive pay.

The holiday giant collapsed on Monday, taking with it 22,000 jobs worldwide – 9,000 of which are based in the UK – and leaving thousands of holidaymakers stranded abroad.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it had completed more than 130 flights on Monday and Tuesday, returning almost 30,000 people back to the UK, with 95% flying back on the day of their original Thomas Cook flight.

It added that it was working “around the clock” to bring an estimated 120,000 passengers back to the UK, with 70 flights with seats for 16,500 people planned for Wednesday.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The German airline Condor is a different airline, operating in a different market, and with potentially different commercial prospects. It is therefore a decision for the German authorities whether they agree to support German businesses with short-term taxpayer loans.

“The Government was not presented with a viable proposition by Thomas Cook’s board to support the company. We stand fully by our decision.”