Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom is calling on the Insolvency Service to “fast-track” its investigation of Thomas Cook, with the conduct of the company’s bosses also set to come under the microscope.
The Insolvency Service will look at the circumstances surrounding Thomas Cook going into liquidation as the events leading up to the tour operator’s demise is now pored over.
Thomas Cook directors and their conduct will also be probed as part of the inquiry, according to the Department for Transport.
This will be a hugely worrying time for employees of Thomas Cook, as well as their customers. Government will do all it can to support them.Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom
A Government task force is being set up to support employees as well as to monitor and assess the impact on affected local businesses.
The Insolvency Service is already taking steps to pay statutory redundancy to Thomas Cook employees.
Mrs Leadsom said: “This will be a hugely worrying time for employees of Thomas Cook, as well as their customers.
“Government will do all it can to support them.
“I will be setting up a cross-Government task force to monitor local impacts, will write to insurance companies to ask them to process claims quickly, and stand ready to provide assistance and advice.
“I will also be writing to the Insolvency Service to ask them to prioritise and fast-track their investigation into the circumstances surrounding Thomas Cook going into liquidation.”
The Government stopped short of a full investigation into Monarch’s collapse in 2017 and its private equity owner Greybull Capital.
But the airline’s failure prompted the Government to look at changes to legislation to avoid halting services abruptly when a carrier is put into administration.
It had pledged to consider plans for an orderly wind-down of airlines that would have allowed them to look after customers themselves without the Government needing to step in.
They were hoping to learn lessons from the collapse of Air Berlin and Alitalia in Europe, which were both allowed to continue flying to enable passengers to return.
Some 110,000 passengers had to be be flown back home after the Monarch collapse, but this has now been dwarfed by the numbers of those left stranded by Thomas Cook.