Thomas Cook’s average selling prices for the UK this summer are 9% up despite sales for this summer being down 11% in line with capacity reductions.
Europe’s second largest travel group gave an upbeat forecast in its interim management statement for the three months to December 31, 2008, after reducing seasonal losses for the period by 52% to £27.4 million compared to a £57.3 million loss in the same period in 2007.
The group has 10% fewer holidays left to sell in the UK for this summer and has sold 43% of available UK capacity for this summer despite a clear later booking trend for summer 2009 bookings, as well as across winter 2008-2009 bookings.
It reported culmulative bookings for this summer to be 11% down, in line with an 11% capacity reduction. However, bookings in the fours weeks up to Februrary 8 were only 6% down.
The statement said: “Bookings have strengthened over the last four weeks and we remain confident that they will trend towards our planned capacity.”
The group has continued to focus on medium haul holiday sales, which will represent 69% of its total summer charter programme, compared to 63% last year.
Bookings for the winter season 2008-2009 are 7% down – broadly in line with a capacity reduction of 6% – while average selling prices for winter are 7% up.
Sales for the four weeks until February 8 show average selling prices for winter to be 10% ahead.
Group chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said winter trading continued to be “robust”.
He added: “We remain well placed to manage our business through challenging trading conditions.”