Thomas Cook suffers £70m blow from ash cloud crisis

THE chaos to air travel caused by the volcanic ash cloud knocked £70m off Thomas Cook’s profits, the company said yesterday.

But the travel operator said its first- half loss narrowed despite the setback.

Thomas Cook reported a pre-tax loss for the half year to 31 March of £252.2m compared with £309m the year before.

Northern European airspace was shut down for six days last month after Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted, spewing ash into the air.

Thomas Cook said that – excluding the estimated impact of the volcanic ash cloud – it was confident of meeting expectations for the full-year.

Its shares have dropped by ten per cent since the disruption began.

However, chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said the holiday market had bounced back following the initial disruption, with bookings in the United Kingdom up five per cent year-on-year.

He added: “Encouragingly, the market is getting stronger and stronger. At the moment, we’re out-selling our capacity. Our rate of intake is greater than the amount of bookings we’ve got left to sell.”