Thomas Cook Group reports 12% drop in summer holiday bookings

Thomas Cook Group reports 12% drop in summer holiday bookings

The Thomas Cook Group is continuing to see a fall in the number of UK bookings in conjunction with increased selling prices for this summer.

Revealing the unaudited results for the six-month period ending March 31, chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said Thomas Cook in the UK has seen a 12% drop in cumulative bookings for summer 2009 against a 9% increase in average selling price.

This has led to a 1.8% fall in Thomas Cook's UK revenues to £972.6 million for the six-month period.

The outbreak of swine flu in Mexico has had an adverse effect on bookings, which are down 15% in the last three weeks, as opposed to 10% down when Mexico cancellations are not taken into consideration.

However, with Mexico bookings accounting for less than 2% of Thomas Cook's entire UK bookings, the overall impact is expected to be minimal.

Fontenla-Novoa said medium-haul destinations continue to be a focus for the vertically integrated operator, with the proportion of holidays sold to them increased by 77% for the UK winter programme.

The change in focus, which has been helped by the operator's acquisition programme, has been partially responsible for a 9.8% drop in mass-market passengers over the period, although this has been countered by a 126% year-on-year increase in other passengers.

Retail customers, most of whom booked through Thomas Cook shops, also fell by 5% largely dues to capacity reductions across the market.

However, the internet has continued to see strong growth with 34.7% of all departed passengers in the period booking online - a 37.7% year-on-year growth.

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