Hays Travel ‘devastated’ as it cuts almost 900 jobs

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John and Irene Hays

The firm which bought Thomas Cook shops has said up to 878 employees out of 4,500 may lose their jobs due to new coronavirus travel restrictions.

Hays Travel took on more than 2,000 former Thomas Cook employees when it went bust in October last year.

Owners John and Irene Hays said Spanish travel restrictions meant hundreds of thousands of holidays were cancelled.

They were “devastated” staff would lose jobs “through no fault of their own,” the couple said.

In a joint statement, the Hays said they had “made every possible effort” to protect the jobs of all its staff “including those who were employed when Hays Travel took on the Thomas Cook shops last October.”

The Sunderland-based company said it was now consulting with 344 staff training as travel consultants and the 534 who work in the foreign exchange division.

The firm said its experienced travel sales staff, apprentices and other head office staff were not affected by the cuts.

‘No choice’

“We are devastated that after all of our efforts and the huge investment we’ve made we now face losing some of our valued employees, through no fault of their own.

“Following the decision to ban travel to Spain and the changes in furlough conditions coming at the same time, we have had no choice,” it added.

In July the government brought back a 14-day quarantine for travellers returning to the UK from Spain after a spike in coronavirus cases.

The Foreign Office later updated its advice against all non-essential to Spain to include the Balearic and Canary Islands as well as the mainland.

And firms who have furloughed staff during the pandemic had to start contributing to the government job retention scheme from Saturday, putting more pressure of struggling companies.

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Hays Travel

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Hays Travel took over Thomas Cook’s 555 travel agents last October

The Hays staff facing redundancy are a mixture of people who were in the old company and former Thomas Cook staff.

Hays Travel made the surprise announcement in October 2019 that it was taking charge of all of Thomas Cook’s 555 travel agents across the UK, after the 178-year-old firm went out of business. This prevented thousands of staff from losing their jobs.

Under pressure

But the coronavirus pandemic has put major pressure on many parts of the economy, including the travel sector.

Rival travel firm Tui said last week that it would close nearly a third of its High Street stores in the UK and Ireland because of the coronavirus pandemic and in response to changes in customer behaviour.

Meanwhile, on Monday sports retail chain DW Sports announced it had fallen into administration, putting 1,700 jobs at risk.

It followed an announcement by HSBC on Monday that it would accelerate 35,000 job losses and news from Byron Burger on Friday that it would cut 650 jobs and close more than half of its restaurants.

There have been an estimated 150,000 redundancies so far.

Last week’s cuts included 450 jobs going at Selfridges, 650 at busmaker Alexander Dennis, 900 at Dyson, and 1,200 workers facing redundancy at the National Trust.

Other lay-offs announced during the pandemic have included:

  • Up to 5,000 job cuts at Upper Crust owner SSP Group
  • Up to 700 jobs at Harrods
  • About 600 workers at shirtmaker TM Lewin
  • 1,900 jobs at CafĂ© Rouge-owner Casual Dining Group
  • 1,000 jobs at Pret A Manger
  • 1,700 UK jobs at plane-maker Airbus
  • 1,300 crew and 727 pilots at EasyJet
  • 550 jobs are going at Daily Mirror publisher Reach

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