Abta chairman John McEwan has admitted he was surprised by the timing of group chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa’s departure from Thomas Cook.
He told Travel Weekly: “I’ve known Manny for years and have great respect for his ability and leadership.
“I am surprised at the timing. I can only assume investors put pressure on the board, but it is highly unusual for a chief executive to step down almost immediately. There would normally be a period of transition.
“I expected him to stay on to lead the review of the business.”
The Advantage chief executive said Fontenla-Novoa had performed well in difficult circumstances. “He has done a good job of pulling everything together. The economic backdrop and external events have not helped.”
McEwan, who worked at Thomas Cook for thirty years, said the next group chief executive of Thomas Cook must reinvigorate the business.
“A repositioning of the Thomas Cook portfolio needs to take place. The tour operation needs to be repositioned to be less dependent on the family market, which is struggling to book at the moment. The company has a lot of three or four star properties that are most attractive to families.”
He added: “This will have come as a big shock to staff but now they have to focus on getting over that shock and focus on their customers.”
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