Boss of Thomas Cook’s Condor airline apologises for bail out celebrations

A video shows executives celebrating in the wake of the wider group’s collapse where 21,000 people lost their jobs

 A woman passes next to the logo of the travel company Thomas Cook and a street sign in front of the headquarters of the German branch of Thomas Cook in Oberursel, Germany, 25 September 2019. British Thomas Cook's German tour operator has filed for insolvency on September 25. EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
 A woman passes next to the logo of the travel company Thomas Cook and a street sign in front of the headquarters of the German branch of Thomas Cook in Oberursel, Germany, 25 September 2019. British Thomas Cook's German tour operator has filed for insolvency on September 25. EPA/ARMANDO BABANI

The head of Thomas Cook Group’s German airline Condor said he was sorry on Thursday for a video showing staff celebrating a rescue loan that was widely shared on social media.

Writing on Linkedin and Twitter, Christoph Debus said that he did not intend to cause offence with the video, which was filmed in the wake of the wider group’s collapse on Monday where 21,000 people lost their jobs.

The video showed the 48-year-old executive striding with a smile on his face through a crowd of employees, while they clapped their hands and cheered.

Also walking through the crowd was Thomas Cook Airlines finance director Dr Ulrich Johannwille and the group's aircraft director Christian Schmitt.

According to Mr Debus, it was filmed immediately following the Federal Government's announcement to grant Condor €380m to keep the German carrier flying. Condor is 49 per cent owned by Thomas Cook Group.

The footage was widely shared on social media and sparked backlash, with UK-based Thomas Cook staff who were made redundant complaining that they couldn’t pay mortgages and having to result to job seeker’s allowance.

Former Thomas Cook cabin crew Linzi Cheeseman, who was sent the video by a colleague, told The Mirror newspaper her disbelief.

“Everyone is furious," the 24-year-old said.

"We have lost our jobs and they are all cheering and celebrating. It’s disgusting."

Responding to the backlash, Mr Debus said: “I am aware that a celebratory video has been shared across social media. I never, ever intended to cause offence or appear inconsiderate. I am heartbroken that any of my colleagues feel that I have been, and for that I am truly sorry.”

“The reaction of myself, the Condor management and employees was one of pure relief that Condor could continue to fly and more redundancies within the Group Airlines were prevented.

“I realise, however, that this video was inappropriately timed and I am sorry,” he added.

He said that his thoughts remain for his UK colleagues and other staff across Europe who “have had the worst possible news this week”.

Updated: September 26, 2019 06:14 PM

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