Cook boss backs calls for staggered school terms

Cook boss backs calls for staggered school terms

The boss of Thomas Cook has called on local councils in the UK to stagger school term times to spread demand and reduce holiday prices.

Speaking after the group’s half-year results were announced on Thursday, chief executive Peter Fankhauser said local authorities should “look over the pond” to Germany and Switzerland where a staggered system has helped reduce prices.

But he said parents could also avoid high prices by booking early.

Fankhauser’s comments come after the High Court found parent Jon Platt not guilty of a criminal offence when he refused to pay a fine for taking his daughter out of school in term-time. Abta has been a consistent proponent of staggering school holidays to spread the peak season.

Fankhauser said: “Local authorities would do well to look across the pond at Germany and Switzerland. They stagger their school, holidays…which reduces pressure on holiday demand.”

He added: “(In Germany and Switzerland) they agreed to stagger the dates and every year they are planning ahead for the next three years. That’s taken the pressure off the peak times when you have strong demand and prices go up.”

Asked if Cook would consider lowering prices during school holidays, Fankhauser said: “Our offering is very attractive in the early days of the season. You have to book early in the cycle.”

He said the company had not seen any jump in bookings following last week’s court ruling for parents looking to book holidays during term-time.

Commenting on the lates market for this year, Fankhauser said there would be no market in Spain, but admitted it was a situation he “had never seen before” and could not forecast what would happen.

The proportion of Turkey holidays sold by Cook last year was 23%, compared to 5% this year.

The group has taken out 100,000 seats from the destination in the last month.

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