Thomas Cook bookings rise but prices remain under pressure

Thomas Cook has reported improved bookings in the UK but with prices remaining under pressure.

Thomas Cook has reported improved bookings in the UK but with prices remaining under pressure. - Credit: PA

Tour operator Thomas Cook said today holidaymakers were flocking to Cuba and Greece this year but added that prices remained under pressure.

The 174-year-old firm said UK winter holidays were 92% sold which is 9% up on last year, with Egypt reviving as a popular destination following a period of political unrest.

However, average selling prices are 2% down on a year ago as the agent has sold a higher number of seat-only flights, reflecting customer demand for more flexible holidays.

The tour operator said its UK summer programme was 57% sold, which is 4% ahead of last year. Average selling prices are 1% down on a year ago with favourites Spain and Turkey again strong sellers.

The company is now run by Peter Fankhauser, who took the helm at Thomas Cook after the shock departure in November of his well-regarded predecessor Harriet Green.

She narrowed losses at the business, which nearly collapsed in 2012, after a campaign of cost savings and a purge of low-margin operations.

Overall the group said its winter holiday programme was 95% sold, which is 1% ahead of last year with average selling prices down 2%.

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It added that its summer holidays were 54% booked, with bookings down 1% as trading in many parts of Europe has remained tough.

The company added that bookings at its various concept hotels, aimed at families, couples, or single travellers, were 20% up on 12 months ago.

Mr Fankhauser said: “Our bookings for the full year are developing well, especially in the UK and Airlines Germany.”

The group added that although it was experiencing pricing pressures, due to excess airline capacity and intense competition, it expected to hit its full year targets.

Brokers at Jefferies said: “The UK’s positive progress is being sustained and the outlook is unchanged.”