Compass Group boss Richard Cousins has been named as one of six people killed in a plane crash in Sydney on New Year's Eve.
Cousins' sons Edward and Will Cousins, his fiancee Emma Bowden and her 11-year-old daughter Heather were also killed, alongside the pilot Gareth Morgan.
The tourist flight plunged into the Hawkesbury river near Cowan, just north of Sydney, at about 3.10pm local time yesterday, according to police. The cause of the crash is still unknown.
Paul Walsh, Compass Group chairman, said: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible news. The thoughts of everyone at Compass are with Richard’s family and friends, and we extend our deepest sympathies to them.
“It has been a great privilege to know Richard personally and to work with him for the last few years. Richard was known and respected for his great humanity and a no-nonsense style that transformed Compass into one of Britain’s leading companies.”
Cousins joined Compass in 2006 and was due to retire at the end of March. In a statement, the company said Dominic Blakemore’s appointment as chief executive would "be advanced" to start with immediate effect.
Richard's son Will was head of press for Open Britain. Chairman Roland Rudd said the team was "devastated" by the news.
“Will was an extraordinary young man who was passionate about what he did; who took deep pride in his work; and came into the office every day with enthusiasm, energy and determination," Rudd added. “Will saw his role at Open Britain as more than a job. For him, it was a cause akin to a crusade to stop Britain crashing out of the EU with no deal or a bad deal. He will be missed beyond words.”
James McGrory, executive director of Open Britain, added: “The dreadful news about Will and his family has left all of us at Open Britain in shock and deep sorrow.
“Words cannot express how much I and the rest of the team at Open Britain will miss Will. We have lost a brilliant colleague and a true friend.”
Aaron Sha, managing director of operator Sydney Seaplanes, said: "All at Sydney Seaplanes are deeply shocked by this incident and the resulting loss of life. We wish to pass on our heartfelt condolences to the Bowden and Cousins families and the family of our pilot Gareth Morgan who were tragically killed.
"Gareth had worked for Sydney Seaplanes on two occasions, the first from 2011 to 2014, after which he went to fly seaplanes in the Maldives. He then returned to working for us in May 2017. He was an extremely experienced pilot, with over 10,000 hours total time, of which approximately 9,000 hours was seaplane time. On a personal level he was deeply respected and liked by me and all of the team here as a man and as a pilot. He flew my family and I to Palm Beach just before Christmas. We are devastated by his loss.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the NSW Police and all that were involved in the recovery yesterday, this would have been a harrowing task and we are extremely grateful to them for their work."