Hats off to Mytravel and Thomas Cook for the astonishing merger. As I highlighted last month consolidation was definitely on the cards but I do not think many industry commentators had these two paired. The winners are the Mytravel shareholders whose shares jumped by 40% on Monday morning last week. However this will not be an easy integration. The accountants will have drawn up wonderful detailed business plans which highlight massive savings based upon synergies and consolidation. However achieving these is another thing. The proof in the pudding for this deal will only be evident two or three years down the line. Manny has a massive job on his hands! It will be interesting to assess how First Choice in particular will react to the deal. They have taken a very aggressive stance in recent months. My hunch is that Peter Long and his colleagues will now go on the defensive and retrench before we hear much more from them. server address The turnaround at Mytravel is not less than incredible. In last month’s column when I highlighted the beneficial treatment Mytravel had received from regulators in 2003, a well known colleague of mine likened it to a mainstream bank being owed huge sums by a third world country being treated differently than an individual who had gone overdrawn by a few pounds. An excellent analogy but surely not what one should expect from the government or its agencies. Nevertheless the CAA will be preening themselves on the saving of a huge claim against the Air Travel Trust and the added security of the new merged giant. Pity the small privately owned and run tour operators that failed during the same period for the same reasons all because they were not big enough to sufficiently dent the ATT coffers! Sorry but no one will convince me ever that that is fair!!! While on the subject of the CAA, many companies will now be going through the dreaded procedure of the renewal of their ATOL licences. I suspect there will be much angst and irritation at the stance that is being taken by the CAA over “dynamic packages” and whether they should be bonded by the CAA. ABTA has issued clear guidance to all its members that are easy to follow and in the main agree with most legal minds on the interpretation of the Judicial Review. The CAA appears to read it differently so I suspect Simon Bunce, the Head of Legal at ABTA, may be receiving more than a few calls in the weeks ahead from members seeking his assistance. The DTI guidance we are all waiting for, which I understand is now with the CAA, cannot come quickly enough but will it really clarify things any further?. The current consumer protection system is unsustainable, and at times blatantly unfair,
and frankly must change.