ANDREA LEADSOM must quit or be fired as business secretary, a trade union demanded yesterday after the former boss of Thomas Cook said no ministers had contacted him before the company's collapse.
Mr Fankhauser is one of five senior Thomas Cook figures giving evidence to the Commons' Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.
Asked why no one from the BEIS department had been contacted, Mr Fankhauser said: 'We were instructed and heavily advised by the transport ministry that they are the single point of contact'.
Committee chair Rachel Reeves, who asked Mr Fankhauser if he would give the bonus back, told Mr Fankhauser his apologies rang "rather hollow".
Mr Fankhauser and other members of Thomas Cook's former management were being questioned by MPs over what led to the liquidation of the business on 23 September which cost thousands of jobs and left many holidaymakers stranded overseas.
He said that a 750,000 pound bonus he was paid in 2017 could theoretically be clawed back, but 30% was paid in shares which were now worthless.
Ms Reeves asked Mr Fankhauser if he would return money to repay taxpayers for the massive repatriation programme to bring 150,000 holidaymakers back to the United Kingdom and help fund redundancy payments to staff.
"I fully understand the sentiment in the public", he told the committee.
"I'm deeply sorry about this failure and I'm deeply sorry for the distress we caused to millions of customers who booked holidays with us and who were on holidays with us. There was multiple parties who had to contribute to the deal which finally then didn't succeed".
The pain of losing her job is still raw for Betty Knight.
In her closing remarks, Ms Reeves said: "Peter Fankhauser, you've spoken about the commitment of your staff, and the fact that they're here today - some of them in their uniforms - I think speaks to their commitment to the company you ran and their commitment to the people they served in your company". According to Mr Fankhauser's account, no United Kingdom ministers had been in touch with Thomas Cook prior to its collapse.
An employee for 13 years, she admits to still being in denial that the company no longer exists.
MPs also asked the bosses why they based bonuses on profits that excluded one-off payments to pay for the restructuring. "That's just the way it should have been". "Otherwise I would have not fought so hard for it".
Fankhauser said he would not criticise the United Kingdom government for its decision not to provide support but that the cost of Thomas Cook's collapse was "far higher" than what the firm requested, adding that he had not spoken to any United Kingdom government ministers in the week before the collapse.
"I firmly believe that after the successful recapitalisation, we would have had a new start". In it, the only reason given for not bailing out Thomas Cook was the notion that it would set a "precedent" whereby all failing companies would expect similar treatment. "I was awfully sad", Mr Fankhauser.