AIRTOURS is preparing for a tough lates market after increasing capacity by around 3% for summer '99.
Revealing a pre-tax loss of £3.7m in the nine months to June 30, Airtours admitted there was uncertainty about the rest of the summer, blaming rival Thomson, which released a profits warning two weeks ago.
But industry observers said Airtours must accept its share of the blame as Thomson and First Choice had reduced capacity by around 3%.
"Airtours is quick to distance itself from the current problems but the bottom line is that it added capacity in a tough year," said a source.
Group finance director Tim Byrne said while it had increased overall capacity it had reduced its core Airtours Holidays product. He added bookings were currently 5% ahead of 1998.
Attributing any future problems to Thomson,Airtours chairman David Crossland said: "We are pleased with our performance but conscious of comments made by our major competitor regarding the use of increased discounting to sell its remaining holidays."
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