The former CEO of Thomas Cook says he hopes Hays Travel will make a success of the business after the Sunderland-based family firm saved 555 of the company's high street stores from closure.

Appearing before a committee of MPs investigating the collapse of the travel giant, Peter Fankhauser said he was “deeply sorry that we couldn’t save this iconic brand, and this company with a long, long history."

Asked by committee chair Rachel Reeves MP whether he thought Hays Travel could "make a success of the stores?", Mr Frankhauser said:

I wish they can. I honestly wish they can. And that was one of the brighter days in the last three weeks when I get the message that Hays Travel was taking the shops and saving about 2,000 of our colleagues jobs.

Former Thomas Cook CEO Peter Fankhauser

Meanwhile Frank Field, chairman of the work and pensions committee, said Thomas Cook's "high-paid executives" should give their bonuses to the collapsed firm's pension fund.

The Birkenhead MP said ex-employees now face a "long wait" to find out how much of their savings may have been lost.

Rounding up the session of the business committee, Rachel Reeves blasted Thomas Cook executives over the companies failure:

Your failure touches on a lot of other people, more I'm afraid than it touches on the five of you.

Rachel Reeves MP

Peter Fankhauser also told MPs that no UK minister contacted the firm in the six days leading up to the firms collapse - while government ministers from Germany, Spain, Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece all personally reached out to him.

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