Lastminute trims losses

ONLINE travel firm lastminute.com has cut its losses despite suffering a grim year caused by the volcanic ash cloud and strikes by airline crews.

The private equity-owned firm increased turnover by 6.45 per cent to £49.14m and cut costs as it tackled the consumer spending slump.

Operating losses narrowed 77 per cent to £10.26m, according to the 2010 accounts of Last Minute Network, which did not return calls.

The directors’ report states: “Trading was put under pressure by a number of external factors during the year, including the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud, strike action by airline personnel, severe winter weather and the disruption and consumer uncertainty that these events resulted in.”

The firm, which sells tickets for events such as West End shows as well as holidays, was set up by Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane Fox in 1998.

It floated in 2000 and survived the dotcom industry collapse before being taken private by travel company Sabre in a £577m deal in 2005.

Fox, who was nearly killed in a car crash in 2004, is now the government’s digital champion and a non-executive director of Marks & Spencer and Channel 4.