Thomas Cook summer bookings down in wake of terror attacks

Catherine Neilan
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Travel Agent Reports Robust Bookings As Dismal Summer Continues
Demand for destinations such as Turkey is hurting the group (Source: Getty)
homas Cook' losses have narrowed, but demand is still suffering as a result of the many terrorist attacks of the last few months.

But Thomas Cook's share price was down more than 11.4 per cent in early trading - although this may in part be because it has released its results on the same day an EgyptAir flight has gone missing.

The figures

Group revenue dipped 2.6 per cent to £2.67bn in the six months to 31 March, but underlying losses from operations narrowed 5.7 per cent from £173m to £163m.

Losses from operations fell five per cent to £288m. However net debt rose from £700m to £825m.

During the period, Moody’s assigned Thomas Cook a new B1 credit rating - one notch higher than its previous rating.

For the full year, underlying EBIT for the full year to be between £310m and £335m.

"We continue to expect to pay a dividend in respect of the current year’s earnings," the operator said.

Thomas Cook's share price is down more than 50 per cent over the last 12 months.

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Why it's interesting

Thomas Cook has noticed a change in the patterns of bookings, with demand rising for holidays to the western Mediterranean and long haul destinations. However this is not yet offsetting a fall in demand for trips to Turkey - which has suffered a number of terrorist attacks lately - meaning overall summer bookings are down five per cent.

There has also been a "sharp decline in demand in Belgium" and other destinations including Egypt.

The operator is continuing to make internal progress, however, adding 10 new destinations including Los Angeles and Cape Town to its line up. The group net promoter score has increased by four points.

However it is still shaking off the reputational damage caused by its handling of the deaths of children Bobby and Christi Shepherd in 2006, which has continued to plague the business.

What Thomas Cook said

Chief executive Peter Fankhauser said: "Despite disruption in some of our key markets, we’ve managed to slightly grow our revenues on a like-for-like basis, having anticipated the shift in demand away from Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt and into the Western Mediterranean and long haul destinations.

Fankhauser also addressed the Corfu inquest, describing it as "a turning point" for the business.

"It was clear to me that we needed to change our mindset and put the customer back at the heart of our business.

“I am proud of the way in which my colleagues across the business have embraced all the changes we have made. We’ve created a comprehensive new training scheme for all customer-facing staff, rolled out new software to better serve customers in resort, and introduced a 24-hour customer promise in 1,500 of our most popular hotels. It’s early days and there is more to do, but we’ve already seen a positive reaction from our customers, with improvements in the net promoter score across all our markets.

“Despite the current market environment, I am confident that the actions we are taking to focus on customer excellence, strengthen our holiday offering, invest in omni-channel distribution, and bring our businesses closer together mean we’re well positioned to meet our existing growth expectations to FY18, creating value for both customers and shareholders.”

In short

A tough environment is making it challenging for Thomas Cook to build on its turnaround.

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