Transport secretary Grant Shapps, has today (Thursday 24 October) refused to apologise to Thomas Cook workers when he was challenged about the government’s failure to support the company, which collapsed last month, when questioned in parliament.

Demand for apology

During Transport questions in the House of Commons Mr Shapps was asked by Labour shadow transport minister Karl Turner MP “to say sorry for letting down all the hard working [Thomas Cook] staff and the British taxpayer.”

Mr Shapps pointedly refused to say sorry and instead said: “If there was a way of doing it we would have done it. It would have required an accounting officer direction because it simply did not add up.”

Profitable airline

However Mr Shapps refused to acknowledge that the Thomas Cook airline, which employed 4,000 workers and was extremely profitable having delivered a £129 million profit before tax and which had attracted five different bidders was forced to enter compulsory liquidation with the rest of the group.

Nor that his department had ignored the findings of the Airline Insolvency Review which was commissioned two years ago following the collapse of Monarch and which if utilised would have helped to ensure the airline could have continued to fly.

Mr Shapps also failed to explain how Thomas Cook’s subsidiaries in Germany, Scandinavia and Spain have continued to fly, after they received support from their national governments but the UK’s Thomas Cook airline was denied similar assistance.

Shapps responsible

Diana Holland Unite assistant general secretary said: “Grant Shapps and the Department for Transport are directly responsible for failing to ensure that Thomas Cook’s profit making airline was supported and could continue to fly.

“It is clear there were multiple government failures in reacting to the problems at Thomas Cook, but in particular Shapps did not understand his brief on airline insolvency and keeping the airline flying when the company was allowed to collapse and he is still in denial of the facts.

“The workers in the airline, who were absolutely dedicated to providing a first class service to customers, deserved and should have expected to be treated far better than this.

 “It is absolutely essential that Grant Shapps is held fully to account for the governmental failures which allowed a company to collapse and thousands of workers to needlessly lose their jobs in the shocking way that it happened in the early hours of 23 September”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.