Tunisia and Greece crises cost Thomas Cook £25m

 
Kasmira Jefford
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Peter Fankhauser took over from Harriet Green last year
TRAVEL operator Thomas Cook said the terror attack in Tunisia, together with uncertainty over a potential Grexit could hit full year earnings by £25m while the strong pound also took its toll on the group.

But chief executive Peter Fankhauser said that overall it had traded ahead of expectations in the third quarter, recording its first operating profit in six years of £3m compared with a £50m loss the same time last year.

The company was forced to evacuate more that 15,000 people in June after a gunman killed 38 foreign holidaymakers in a Tunisian beach massacre undertaken by Islamic State militants.

“Out of UK, we had 35 flights a week to Tunisia, which we have to divert within days to other destinations like Bulgaria, Greece and Spain. It was a major logistical exercise,” he said.

The group has cancelled all flights to the north African country until October, in its biggest crisis since the Arab Spring. Fankenhauser said he had flown down to Tunisia to meet with the Prime Minister last week.

“I got the reassurance that they are doing everything within their power to protect our guests going forward and to build up Tunisia as a popular holiday destination again. The prime minister articulated as well his strong wish to get the European governments to help him in this fight against terrorism.”

The company said summer 2015 holidays were 78 per cent sold, the same as this time last year, while customer bookings had generally improved in most markets over the last few weeks. Its differentiated holiday business is up 38 per cent on the same time last year.

In Greece, he said that bookings had declined significantly during the crisis talks but regained momentum after ministers agreed to the austerity measures set out by their European lenders.

The strong pound is also expected to hurt Thomas Cook’s earnings to the tune of around £39m.

Thomas Cook shares, which have fallen 13 per cent since the Tunisia attack, edged down 0.4 per cent to 125.9p yesterday.

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