Coronavirus: Hays Travel forced to send 880 workers home
The travel company which bought Thomas Cook shops when it collapsed is sending 880 staff home due to the pandemic.
Hays Travel, which has a head office in Sunderland, took on 2,330 former Thomas Cook employees when the firm went bust in October last year.
Owners John and Irene Hays said they were forced to reduce working hours for 880 out of 5,700 workers to zero.
They said the firm had lost £400,000 in one day but hoped it would "emerge stronger" when the virus was defeated.
"The pandemic has been devastating for our business and the whole industry," the couple said.
"Four weeks ago we were on an upward trajectory - now we are losing revenue by the hour."
The company has asked the government for "significant support" for salaries to ensure it can retain its workforce until the outbreak ends.
Mr Hays said people were cancelling their holidays because of the pandemic.
"We were well on track. Business was doing really well, and here we are just a few weeks later in desolation I'm afraid," he said.
Hays took on all of Thomas Cook's 555 shops when it collapsed, as well as hiring many of its former workers.
Mrs Hays said: "The emotions have been running incredibly high but the staff have been incredibly supportive."
Staff remaining at work would be on reduced hours but there had been no redundancies, the company said.
Mr and Mrs Hays said people were "of course very upset" but staff understood the situation was "unprecedented".