A Thomas Cook boss has apologised after a video emerged of staff cheering him and other executives at the firm’s Condor subsidiary after it secured a bailout.
The German government stepped in to save the business while Thomas Cook workers all lost their jobs.
“I never, ever intended to cause offence or appear inconsiderate,” said Jean Christoph Debus, chief airlines officer at the firm.
Germany loaned Condor €380m (£336m).
“I am heartbroken that any of my colleagues feel that I have been, and for that I am truly sorry,” he added in a post on LinkedIn.
The video was filmed after the German government’s announcement, he said.
“The reaction of myself, the Condor management and employees was one of pure relief that Condor could continue to fly and more redundancies within the Group Airlines were prevented. I realise, however, that this video was inappropriately timed and I am sorry.”
On LinkedIn, former employees criticised his focus on Condor over the rest of the business.
“I’m sorry Christoph, but it feels like you have sacrificed the UK businesses to keep the others going,” wrote Tom Williamson, who says he worked for the company for 19 years.
“Question is, where’s our hard-earned wages?” asked Leigh Lockhart, a cabin crew member.
“State aid is apparently not permitted by the EU but the UK seems to be the only country that takes any notice,” said Karl Plummer, a former pilot at the firm.
But he did receive some support: “Unfortunately you can’t please everyone, thanks for saving Condor,” wrote Jochen Heidenberger, a travel agent.
Thomas Cook went into liquidation earlier this week, leaving thousands of passengers stranded and 9,000 UK workers jobless. The company had sought £250m from the UK government to continue to operate, but this was turned down as the government argued that it would not survive anyway.
“Thomas Cook directors need to explain why the UK airline had to be closed but the German one was allowed to continue to operate,” said the general secretary of the Balpa pilots’ union, Brian Strutton.
“How was it funded, because it seems there is nothing left in the coffers for UK staff? And why couldn’t the UK government give the same kind of bridging support as the German government when it was well known that Thomas Cook had a Chinese buyer lined up? It’s a national scandal.”