Thomas Cook back in profit despite hit from terrorist attacks

Thomas Cook has reported its first annual profit for five years.

Thomas Cook has reported its first annual profit for five years. - Credit: PA

The boss of holiday firm Thomas Cook said yesterday that disruption experience since the deadly terrorist attacks in Tunisia, Egypt and Paris was “unprecedented” in his 30-year career.

Chief executive Peter Fankhauser said that while Paris was not a major market for the group the attacks in the city had hit consumer confidence.

He said it was too early to put a figure on the financial impact of flight suspensions to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt after the terrorist bombing of a Russian airliner last month.

But the group said the cancellation of holidays to Tunisia after the beach and hotel terrorist attacks in June had cost it £130million in sales in the year to September 30, with a £22m hit to underlying earnings.

However, Thomas Cook was still able to post its first annual bottom line profit for five years, and said its new financial year had got off to a good start despite the level of disruption.

Tunisia holidays remain largely suspended while leisure flights from the UK to to Sharm el-Sheikh are effectively banned pending security improvements.

Mr Fankhauser said: “In my 30 years I’ve never experienced anything like it.”

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He added: “We operate in uncertain times. However, we also know that when consumers want to travel, they recognise the greater security that tour operators like ourselves can offer.”

Since the recent attacks, holidaymakers have been switching to destinations such as the Canary Islands, Cape Verde and long-haul resorts, according to Thomas Cook.

Bookings for summer 2016 are 5% up year-on-year, with average selling prices up 3%, it added.

The group posted profits after tax of £19m for the year to September 30, its first positive profit after tax since 2010, while underlying earnings rose 11% to £310 million.

It comes in spite of a year of “considerable challenges” for the group, which also saw it become embroiled in a crisis over its handling of the deaths of two children nine years ago from carbon monoxide poisoning at a hotel booked through the travel company.