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p4 dec5 3/12/08 21:00 Page 4
Cook warns big
Wyatt poised for
two could cut
Atol business
travel comeback
Lucy Huxley.
role working with a smaller company.
THOMAS Cook has warned that the big two FORMER XL Leisure Group boss Phil “I would love to be involved in the
could put pressure on the government to reform Wyatt will make his comeback in the
O UK travel business again, but I have
consumer protection by threatening to reduce travel industry on January 5 with
no desire to be involved in another
their Atol business. a new investment and consultancy
large corporation. You can come
Manny Fontenla-Novoa, Cook chief executive, business dealing in the leisure sector. back too soon.” he said. “I’ve done
was speaking ahead of today’s meeting between Black Pearl Investments UK has been nothing wrong but I am taking a risk, so I
Tui Travel and transport secretary Geoff Hoon. set up by Wyatt with XL’s former group chief want to be an investor as opposed to a manager
He said the big two were “singing from the financial officer, Halldor Sigurdarson, and head of with day-to-day involvement.”
same hymn sheet” on the issue of consumer mergers and acquisitions, Magnus Stephensen. The administrators’ report into the failure of
protection following XL Leisure Group’s collapse. Wyatt said each of the individuals had put XL and its subsidiaries was published this week
Asked how the big two could force action, money into the venture and that the company ahead of a creditors meeting at Wembley Arena
Fontenla-Novoa said they must keep it on the was also “capitalised to a good level” by outside on December 16-17. The list of its largest creditors
agenda of consumers and “chip away” at airline investors, including one based in Hong Kong. included the CAA, which accounted for more than
opposition to a universal protection scheme. Black Pearl is named after Johnny Depp’s ship £85 million through the call on its bond and repa-
But he also said that if, as expected, the Atol in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. triation, and West Ham Football Club (£389,000).
Protection Contribution increases from £1 to Wyatt said the business would focus on several
£2.50 next year, Cook could reduce its Atol markets, including the UK, and claimed that de-
business by switching to component sales. spite the downturn it was a good time to launch.
“If the government is prepared to allow “I believe that in a tough financial environ- Read Wyatt’s sensational interview in full,
confusion out there, why wouldn’t we [switch]?” ment, many opportunities will present them- only in next week’s TTG, and find out:
Before APC was brought in this year the cost selves. And as a team we have a good knowledge ✰How and why it all went wrong
of bonding for the big two is thought to have of the French and German markets as well as the ✰The mistakes he made
been less than £1 per person. Observers estimate UK, Canada and the US,” said Wyatt. ✰What he lost and who he blames
the big two could have £5 million added to their But he stressed that after his XL experience, ✰And what brought him to tears
APC payments if it goes up to £2.50. he was now keen to take a less hands-on
Greenacre stands firm against selling Kiss flights
CO-OPERATIVE Travel Group managing director ator were already planning their next venture.
Mike Greenacre has stood by his decision never “We have to be careful about jumping into ven-
to sell Kiss Flights, the operator that emerged in tures that evolve out of failures,” said Greenacre.
the aftermath of the XL failure. He added: “What makes me who I am is my
At their annual conference, Freedom Travel great passion for our business. We are not just
Agents’ Consortium members expressed con- looking after ours, but also yours, to make sure
cerns his stance may be detrimental to mem- we are all protected and profitable.”
bers’ business if it restricted access to flights. Greenacre questioned whether Kiss flights was
But Greenacre said: “I stand by my decision. that crucial to members.
We held an Atol and lost up to £1.8 million.” “Its capacity is still limited and its opportunity
Greenacre said that while the Co-op had been to replicate Freedom Flights is small,” he said.
in talks with XL abouts its financial situation,
Mike Greenacre: “We held an Atol and lost up to £1.8m” individuals who had only recently left the oper- ■Co-op Travel on track for £14m profit, p5
04 05.12.2008
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