Ryanair boss says tour operator model is ‘dead’ following Thomas Cook collapse

Darren Wood
By Darren Wood October 2, 2019 10:44

Ryanair boss says tour operator model is ‘dead’ following Thomas Cook collapse

Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary says the tour operator model was “dead” following the collapse of Thomas Cook.

O’Leary, who appeared at a Reuters Newsmaker event in London, claimed that Thomas Cook’s demise last week was no surprise, with low-fare models like his squeezing less competitive rivals.

“The package market I think is screwed, it’s over. It’s like whoever was making shoes for horses when there were horse-drawn carriages,” he said.

“There were some good, well-managed horse-shoe companies but ultimately they went the same way as well and that will happen with tour operators here in Europe.” 

When asked further about the fall of Thomas Cook, O’Leary admitted that he was talking to leasing companies about taking on Thomas Cook’s Airbus planes for Ryanair group’s Lauda airline, and could take on some of the travel group’s pilots if they could be trained by next summer. 

O’Leary was quick to note that while Thomas Cook’s UK airline immediately folded when the company went into administration, its German Condor airline is still flying and has been offered a bridging loan by the German government. Thomas Cook’s Scandinavian airline is also still flying.

The Ryanair boss suggested that some responsibility lies with the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for granting Thomas Cook a license to operate without demanding more proof that they would survive.

Commenting at the event, O’Leary said: “How you can license Thomas Cook in April as fit to fly for another 12 months and then it goes bust in September.

“The CAA should be much more aggressive in requiring the shareholders of those companies to put up much more cash to get through the year, rather than allowing them to continually fail.” 

The CAA has offered no response.

O’Leary also stated that the Boeing 737 MAX grounding has hampered Ryanair’s ability to capitalise fully on Thomas Cook’s demise.

“When opportunities come up like the failure of Thomas Cook we want to be able to grow faster,” he said. “But safety is the first priority.” 

Darren Wood
By Darren Wood October 2, 2019 10:44