Thomas Cook enjoys surge in bookings

Tour operator Thomas Cook said it had traded well in its fourth quarter thanks to growing demand for package holidays and was on track to hit full-year profit expectations.<br /><br />Europe&rsquo;s second-biggest tour operator yesterday also outlined plans to further expand its financial services activities through acquisitions but said it has no plans to go to the market to raise funds.<br /><br />Thomas Cook said summer trading at its British business was finishing well with medium-haul destinations proving particularly popular, while trade in continental Europe had improved thanks to rate reductions, which had stimulated demand without hitting margins.<br /><br />It said bookings for winter 2009-10 had improved across its main markets since August but would-be holiday-makers were booking later than in previous years.<br /><br />&ldquo;Consumers are still going on their holidays, but the trend towards later bookings is carrying on,&rdquo; chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said.<br /><br />Rival TUI Travel, Europe&rsquo;s biggest tour operator, on Tuesday said it would raise &pound;440m to fund acquisitions and repay loans but Thomas Cooks has ruled out making a cash-call.