Thomas Cook Meeting

On Tuesday 26th May 2009 SOS representatives met with Thomas Cook to discuss any common ground over the cost and arrangements of travel for Liverpool fans.

Thomas Cook opened the meeting by asking what it was that the Union wanted from them. SOS replied that as far as European travel was concerned we were looking at much cheaper air travel. Thomas Cook responded by saying they were keen to tie up with the Union but indicated that the profit margins they made on flights were very small and they needed over 95% capacity to break even. SOS responded that it was obvious that they were only flying with about 50% capacity and Thomas Cook agreed this was correct. Thomas Cook said they were operating this way as they were committed to offer flights as part of their deal with LFC.

The discussion then turned to Thomas Cook “pooling” the three group games and to offer an average price for each flight. SOS stated that this could work but this would be subject to the prices being reasonable. One offer that Thomas Cook said they could consider was offering to let Union members pay for these pooled flights by interest free installments to spread the cost.

Thomas Cook indicated that some airports are more expensive to fly into than others, for instance John Lennon Airport is more expensive to fly from than Manchester. With this in mind Thomas Cook asked whether the Union would be prepared to fly from Manchester (they would do coach transfers from Liverpool as part of a deal), SOS responded by saying it would depend upon cost but the preferred choice would be to fly from Liverpool.

Thomas Cook said that one of the challenges that they faced was with LFC over tickets. LFC insist that Thomas Cook cannot let anyone travel without a ticket. SOS explained to Thomas Cook that Liverpool fans are very experienced travelers and save a lot of money by being inventive, creative and quick off the mark in picking routes all over Europe and the UK but the feedback we get from our members was that most fans wanted to fly to and from Liverpool but Thomas Cook were missing out on this as their prices were too high.

Thomas Cook asked what the Union thought was the  general opinion of Liverpool fans towards Thomas Cook, SOS replied that the general view of Liverpool fans was that Thomas Cook were ripping off the fans but we were confident that the Union could fill a plane for them but their prices had to be more reasonable.

Thomas Cook suggested that if we could reach agreement about flight costs they could set up a link from their system to the Union website to allow our members to pay on-line to make it easier. We explained to them that if we were satisfied that our members were not going to be ripped off we could manage access to members via emails  and advertising (subject to our New Media and Membership representatives being involved in all of this and our members not receiving direct communication from Thomas Cook, only information our members wished to decide to receive).

Thomas Cook said they would go away and do an exercise with last season’s prices and see what they could come up with using the criteria they said they would use just for the Union.

The Union accepts that we would have to ask our members first. It would need a commitment from the Union to initially fill one plane for a day trip. The Union would see how that went and then move onto the next step of sorting out a one night stay.

The view after the meeting was that Thomas Cook would struggle to give us what we want but the more we talk with them then hopefully we can come to some deal. We felt that Thomas Cook are very keen to do a deal with the Union and we will report back once they have come back to us.


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