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Airlines’ price rises in wake of Thomas Cook collapse branded ‘appalling’

Scotland’s Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has accused companies of exploiting passengers.

Thomas Cook collapsed in the early hours of Monday (Craig Paton/PA)
Thomas Cook collapsed in the early hours of Monday (Craig Paton/PA)

By Craig Paton, PA Scotland Political Reporter

Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has criticised airlines that have raised their prices following the collapse of travel company Thomas Cook.

Responding to a question from Labour MSP Pauline McNeill, Mr Matheson described the price rises as “appalling”.

Thomas Cook collapsed early on Monday morning, resulting in the loss of 640 jobs in Scotland and leaving thousands of holidaymakers having to be repatriated by the UK Government.

The BBC reported on Tuesday that holidaymaker Angela Mills looked to book a replacement flight from Glasgow to Rhodes, leaving on Wednesday, after the collapse of the firm.

She was told it was cost more than £1,000 – when the price was just £280 the on Sunday night.

Families left without a holiday booked were in a “tragic situation” that some airlines were looking to “take advantage of”, Ms Mills said.

Mr Matheson said: “It’s appalling that any airline should be looking to exploit individuals in these  difficult circumstances.

“I would ask that all airlines consider their actions in the coming weeks for those that have been adversely impacted by the demise of Thomas Cook.

“This is not an opportunity to make an extra couple of pounds out of people who are in a difficult situation.

“This is a time to help those individuals to restore their holidays and their plans and their hopes for going off on holiday.”

He added: “I would call on all airlines to show support and some consideration to those who have been affected by the demise of Thomas Cook and to offer them support and help as opposed to trying to take money off them.”

This will be a very worrying time for employees and their families Transport Secretary Michael Matheson

Earlier in the session, in a response to fellow SNP MSP Sandra White, Mr Matheson reiterated the Scottish Government’s commitment to helping former Thomas Cook employees through their Partnership for Continuing Employment (PACE) scheme.

The partnership, which includes trade unions, the Department for Work and Pensions and is led by Skills Development Scotland, aims to help local authorities react to potential redundancies effectively.

Mr Matheson said: “We are saddened by the collapse of Thomas Cook.

“This will be a very worrying time for employees and their families.

“We have already made offers of support for affected employees through PACE.”

Mr Matheson also confirmed there had been a hotline set up for businesses that worked in partnership with Thomas Cook.

“I am aware of the concern about the effects this could have on the supply chain.

“What I can assure the member of is that Scottish Enterprise have set up a specific helpline to be a point of contact for these companies within the supply chain, who may be affected by this situation.

“They have a team of specialists who can provide financial support, as well as directing them towards PACE arrangements if appropriate.”

PA

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