Shares fall in Thomas Cook as results disappoint

Tour operators including Thomas Cook and TUI AG have been boosting capacity at resorts perceived as safer by customers as they wrestle with the impact of terror attacks that have depressed travel to traditional vacation spots spanning Paris and Nice to Bodrum and Marmaris on Turkey's Mediterranean coast.

However, UK bookings for the key summer period are now flat, with average selling prices two per cent higher.

Countries including Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Portugal are reaping some of the fastest growth in bookings for next summer, Thomas Cook said Thursday. Summer bookings were ahead of a year ago, after the company responded to the security turmoil of 2016 by expanding its presence in Greece, Portugal and Croatia, which are less affected by security concerns.

Revenue group rose from £1.62 billion, up from £1.41 billion a year previously, alongside a "seasonal" underlying loss of £49 million.

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He said the group would not be drawn into a price war and had "taken a deliberate decision to focus on higher margin, quality holidays".

"Bookings are already nine percent ahead of previous year, which ought to offer some comfort".

Mr Fankhauser said there was no sign that Britons had been put off foreign holidays by the weak pound, but added that there has been a drop in demand for trips to the United States largely due to the strength of the dollar against the pound.

The firm said average selling prices for outbound holidays from the United Kingdom are 9 per cent higher than a year ago.

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Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: " Times are tough in the European travel industry and Thomas Cook isn't having the best of it, though the good news is things don't seem to be getting any worse".

Standard Life, which holds 13% of Thomas Cook shares and is the company's second biggest shareholder, voted against the pay plans.

At the company's annual general meeting 32.7% of shareholders opposed its strategic share incentive plan (SSIP) which was set to pay Peter Fankhauser a long-term bonus of up to 225% of his base salary of £703,000, worth about £1.6m a year.

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