ONE of the region's best-known travel industry executives last night said he has no current plans to return to the business after his latest company collapsed.
David Hawke has put his Newcastle-based company Monster Travel into administration and made its 94 staff redundant after it ran into cash-flow problems.
Hawke started the company just two years ago after raising £400,000 with his partner Julie Gilmore and hoped to have it turning over £60m in a couple of years. It had worked to keep costs low with staff working from home and call centres and branching out into bespoke holidays.
But the former managing director of Newcastle travel firm Team Lincoln, who was also head of direct sales at Thomson Holidays and head of sales at Sunderland-based Hays Travel, is unsure of its next move.
“The whole travel market is so difficult at the moment. We had three good months at the beginning of the year and then the ash cloud hit and that is what did for us,” he said.
“I have no plans straight away. I think we’ll have to give it a while. I don’t know yet whether I’ll go back.
“It is very hard at the moment. It is sad to have to do this but we had cash-flow problems and there was nothing else we could really do.
“We had some great people working for us and that’s the saddest thing about it.”
The company’s marketing director Ms Gilmore had registered a new business, the Cheap Holidays Company, two months ago but Mr Hawke stressed that it was only intended to preserve the firm’s web address and was not intended as the basis for a new business.
The Freedom Travel Group, which is owned by the Co-operative Group, has already taken over and pledged to fulfil all future bookings for Monster.
And many of Monster’s staff are finding new work even though the Gosforth company only stopped trading on Friday. More than 20 of the staff had worked for Freedom Direct, another Newcastle travel company which collapsed in April last year. Its business was taken over by Hays.
Jane Atkins, managing director of the Freedom Travel Group, said: “We are very disappointed and saddened that Monster Travel are no longer in a position to trade, but we will take on all forward bookings, ensuring that customers travel as planned and that trade suppliers are paid.”
A spokesman for the CAA has confirmed that all forward bookings would be honoured by Freedom Travel Group.
Last week the national tour operator Goldtrail went into administration leaving around 16,000 tourists stuck abroad. The CAA said it was making arrangements to fly customers home at the end of their holiday under its Atol and they could recoup bills on insurance.