Hays Travel has signed up a number of Freedom Travel Group members so far, with more meetings pending, following the collapse of Thomas Cook.

It has also employed at least 50 Thomas Cook agents across its retail network and is working with the Department of Education to take on as many of Thomas Cook’s apprentices as possible.

Hays Travel was appointed by the CAA on Wednesday to fulfil bookings made my Freedom members. Managing director John Hays said between five and 10 of the 155 Freedom members had already joined Hays, and said five more were travelling to Sunderland for face-to-face meetings with him today (Friday) with regards joining.

He said he had joined a conference call with all Freedom members yesterday (Thursday), called by the CAA, to explain that Freedom members could either lose their bookings completely, or transfer them to Hays’ Atol. Hays would re-issue their Atol receipts and handle the documentation.

More: Hays Travel IG cancels conference after Thomas Cook collapse

Hays Travel appointed to fulfil Freedom Travel Group bookings

John Hays said the call had “gone very well” given that Freedom members were “understandably emotional”.

“Many are distraught as they are going to lose money from this, but we were on the phone for about 90 mins and my team answered all their questions.”

He praised the CAA for the way it had handled the situation. “They have been absolutely brilliant,” he said.

“They were professional and precise and they explained to Freedom members very clearly that they had two options. To cancel all their bookings under the Freedom Atol. Or opt to pass them to their fulfilment partner which would re-issue Atol receipts for all forward bookings.

“The CAA also explained that this was the standard procedure when a company fails and no longer exists and that their commission automatically goes to the new Atol holder, and that’s just the fact of the matter. They said that this was what they have always done with previous failures, which helped to explain things.”

That said, Hays confirmed that any Freedom member which joins Hays’  Independence Group consortium would be paid their commission.

“We have not been in any way aggressive in terms of making offers to Freedom members to join us. But those that do will get to keep their commissions,” he said.

Hays also revealed that Hays had received hundreds of job applications from Thomas Cook retail agents since the collapse and had already recruited  more than 50 across the country with more retail interviews scheduled for today.

“It’s been so emotional. People have cried as we have offered them jobs,” he said.

Hays Travel chair Irene Hays also explained the group had begun working with the Department of Education to step in to help the young people at different stages of their apprenticeship with Thomas Cook.

Hays has already taken on 30 and plans to take on another 30 in a second wave after that.

“After that, we will see. We want to take them on to allow them to do their end point assessment but we have to make sure they have the right environment, so we are taking gentle approach,” she said.