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Thomas Cook to meet its business expectations

The Thomas Cook Group Board is confident that the business will meet its expectations for the current financial year as the Group enters its close period, the tour operator announced during its Annual General Meeting yesterday (10 April). Winter performance has been in line with our expectations and summer trading continues to go…

The Thomas Cook Group Board is confident that the business will meet its expectations for the current financial year as the Group enters its close period, the tour operator announced during its Annual General Meeting yesterday (10 April). 

Winter performance has been in line with our expectations and summer trading continues to go well.

As planned, UK capacity is now 5% below last year and bookings are in line with capacity, down 5%. Average selling prices and margins continue to be ahead of the prior year.

Northern Europe has enjoyed a very good winter season, with bookings up 7% on 7% more capacity and 8% higher average selling prices.

In Continental Europe, the winter season has been satisfactory with bookings down 3% but average selling prices up 4%.

North America winter trading is broadly in line with the position described on 30 January. The booked seat load factor in Airlines Germany for winter is 3% ahead of the prior year.

Trading for Summer 2008 has been strong in our main markets and we are set to enter the season in a very good position. In the UK, capacity is currently 10% lower. Thomas Cook currently has 19% fewer holidays to sell than at this time last year, which should stand us in good stead in the lates market. "We are particularly encouraged by our much lower level of stock left to sell in short haul and long haul. Average selling prices are currently 2% ahead."

Northern Europe summer 2008 trading has continued well, with bookings currently 12% ahead year on year on capacity up only 2%. Average selling prices are 8% ahead.

In Continental Europe, "we are comfortable with summer 2008 trading. Total bookings are up 4% with average selling prices now 2% higher year on year."

North America summer 2008 trading is also satisfactory.

Airlines Germany capacity overall is 9% lower, with the largest reduction the result of eliminating unprofitable city routes. The booked load factor is up 1%.

Fuel and foreign currency

To manage fuel and foreign exchange rate volatility, it is "our policy to hedge fuel requirements 18-24 months prior to the respective season and foreign currency trading requirements prior to the season as well. We continue to be comfortable with our hedged position for the current financial year."

Acquisitions

The Group has made three significant acquisitions since reporting its annual results on 30 January:

  • Supporting its strategy of entering the fast-growing emerging markets by acquiring the majority of Thomas Cook India Limited, 100% of Thomas Cook branded businesses in Egypt and licences for the Thomas Cook brand in 15 Middle East countries (7 March).
  • The acquisition of Hotels4U.com Limited to strengthen its position in the independent travel market (14 February).
  • The acquisition of Elegant Resorts Ltd, the number one UK-based luxury travel company (7 April).

Share buy-back programme

Having obtained approval for the €375 million share buy-back programme at the Extraordinary General Meeting on 10 March, the Group has so far purchased a total of 15,116,000 shares for cancellation, at a total cost of £43.4 million excluding commission (as at the close of business on 9 April).

Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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