Thomas Cook fatcats face calls to hand back £50m in pay over the past 10 years

Top bosses at Thomas Cook are facing furious calls to hand back millions of pounds in bonuses.

They also face a probe into their conduct in the years before the travel giant collapsed yesterday.

It is expected to mean all 21,000 staff losing their jobs and thousands more among its suppliers.

Directors at Britain’s oldest travel agency received £50million in pay and perks in the past 10 years.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said: “They have a moral responsibility to return their bonuses.

“They created this mess and there are large numbers of people losing their jobs. [Bosses] should hand the money back to compensate those workers.”

The firm’s rivals are being accused of taking advantage of the collapse by hiking prices by hundreds of pounds.

As the Government began the biggest peace-time repatriation – with an estimated 160,000 Brits stranded abroad after the company’s demise – Boris Johnson stopped short of demanding the bonuses be paid back.

The Prime Minister said: “It’s not possible for me to know exactly what happened with the directors of the board… and how it came about when they paid themselves x, y or z.

“But we’ve got to have a system in the future whereby we make sure that tour operators are in some way prevented from simply going belly up and then requiring the taxpayer to bring everybody home.”

Hundreds of thousands of people who were yet to leave have had their holiday dreams shattered.

They include terminally-ill Matt Dominic and wife Lyndsay who were given £1,800 from well-wishers to fly to Tenerife today for a kids-free week.

It was to be their last holiday. Former Rolls-Royce employee Matt, 43, who has brain cancer, was given six months to live more than a year ago. The pair, from Derby, expect to get the money back as the holiday is covered by ATOL, but Lyndsay, 42, fears there will not be enough time to arrange another break.

She said: “He was really looking forward to it. He’s not got a lot to look forward to.”

A wedding party of 45 people were stranded at Manchester Airport yesterday after their Thomas Cook flight to Jamaica was cancelled.

Distraught couple Lindsay Coupe, 37, and Lee Bramhall, 42, were set to jet out ahead of the ceremony on Saturday. Lindsay, of Sheffield, said: “I am gutted. You spend all that time planning and looking forward to your wedding day.”

Nine-thousand of Thomas Cook’s workforce are based in the UK.

Some were in tears as they left the firm’s HQ in Peterborough, Cambs, after news broke they had lost their jobs. Peterborough MP and former Thomas Cook employee Lisa Forbes said: “These are good, hard-working people who deserve better.”

The firm’s suppliers, including 3,000 hoteliers, also risk being out of pocket, with some not paid for months, threatening a wave of job losses.

The first Thomas Cook “rescue” flights arrived in the UK last night. Operators including easyJet and Virgin have supplied aircraft to help with the operation co-ordinated by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The CAA admitted it could take two months for those who booked Thomas Cook hols and have yet to travel to get a refund under the ATOL scheme.

Customers face the choice of either cancelling their holiday, or paying out for replacement flights and accommodation. The Insolvency Service will probe the circumstances surrounding Thomas Cook going bust, with the role of directors part of the inquiry.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom called for a “fast-track” process.

Thomas Cook’s board, led by chief executive Peter Fankhauser, threw in the towel in the early hours of yesterday after a £1.1billion rescue bid failed.

Cabinet ministers face criticism after rejecting the firm’s late plea for a £200million bailout.

Mr Fankauser insisted they had “worked exhaustively” to salvage a deal.

The Swiss businessman said: “I know this outcome will be devastating to many people and will cause a lot of anxiety, stress and disruption.”

The £8.3million he has received since taking charge in 2014 includes a £2.9million bonus in 2015.

Mr Fankhauser and his two previous full-time chief executives got roughly £30million between them in the past 10 years. The collapse has sent shockwaves through the industry.

Alan Bowen, of the Association of Atol Companies, warned of a “domino effect”. Brits have hit out at “greedy” travel firms for hiking prices after Thomas Cook went bust.

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