Thomas Cook collapse: Airlines accused of hiking prices after company failure

Airlines have been accused of exploiting the collapse of Thomas Cook, after customers noticed that prices for flights on the travel company's former routes have risen sharply.

Posting on social media, one customer pointed out a Jet2.com holiday in Cyprus had increased in cost by £800 between 7.30am and 11.30am on Monday.

Another Twitter user accused Jet2 of "taking the p*** because of Thomas Cook", after noticing a holiday he planned to book had increased by £248.

And a woman who booked a Thomas Cook flight for £215 last week - when a Jet2.com flight on the same route was £284 - said that flight had now risen to £511 because of "price gouging".

Price gouging is where a seller raises the prices of goods or services to an unreasonable or unfair level, often as a result of a sudden increase in demand and shortage of that good or service.

A spokeswoman for Jet2.com said: "Our pricing, as is common practice in the travel industry, is based on the principle of supply and demand.

"As supply reduces, an inevitable consequence is that prices increase. However, we are looking at adding more supply (flights and seats) to help customers at this time."

More examples were found by The Sun, which saw a return flight with TUI between Glasgow and Gran Canaria that has nearly doubled, from £320 to £620, which the company say is a result of their dynamic pricing model.

A British Airways (BA) flight from London to Orlando that cost £437 before Thomas Cook's collapse has now soared to £1,978 - a price rise of more than 400%.

BA have also said that flight prices are a result of supply and demand and have denied targeting customers of Thomas Cook.

The anger comes as it was revealed that bosses of the former company received multi-million pound sums prior to dropping into administration.

The conduct of directors will be scrutinised as Insolvency Services fast-tracks an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the company going under, amid reports bosses received up to £50m in bonuses in the years before the collapse.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), 14,700 people were repatriated to the UK on the first day of the firm's collapse, which accounted for more than 95% of people who were originally due back home on Monday.

The CAA said that in order for people to continue their holidays, they will be brought back to the UK on the same day they were due to depart.

The company's collapse ruined people's holidays and even weddings, with one groom named Thomas Cook left stranded in Rhodes with his fiancee.

Some 150,000 tourists will be brought home over the next two weeks in a flight programme costing £100m.

Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the CAA, said the government had asked his organisation to launch "the UK's largest ever peacetime repatriation", which includes 45 aircraft from as far away as Malaysia.

The planes have been chartered to operate about 1,000 flights from 53 airports in 18 countries over the next two weeks.

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Boris Johnson visited staff at the British consulate in New York City, who are working to bring stranded travellers home.

"It's a tough time for those who have had holidays disrupted but team hard at work to support them," he tweeted.

"Thanks to all the staff who represent our country so well."

Earlier in the day, Mr Johnson questioned whether directors should pay themselves "large sums of money" as their businesses go "down the tubes".

Speaking to reporters in New York, the prime minister said: "How can we make sure that tour operators take proper precautions with their business models where you don't end up with a situation where the taxpayer, the state, is having to step in and bring people home?

"I have questions for one about whether it's right that the directors, or whoever, the board, should pay themselves large sums when businesses can go down the tubes like that."

Liquidators will now see if any money can be found to hand back to staff and creditors.

The travel agent had about 550 high street locations across the UK, however, it leased its planes, rented its shops and acted as a broker with third-party hotels and cruise ships, meaning it has minimal assets.

One of the world's oldest and largest travel companies, Thomas Cook had been trading for 178 years - having been established in 1841.

As of this year, the group employed 21,000 people in 16 countries, operated 105 aircraft and 200 own-brand hotels and resorts.

Thomas Cook customers are advised to visit the CAA's dedicated website, thomascook.caa.co.uk, for more information about what they should do next.