Thomas Cook Group‘s average selling price for UK holidays over the past four weeks is 15% higher than the same period last year, according to a trading update issued Thursday.
During a call with analysts, CEO Manny Fontenla-Novoa said the past four weeks have been particularly strong across the whole group in the run-up to Easter. Load factors, volumes and margins have all improved.
In February, traditionally a tricky month for tour operators, UK load factors came in 98.4%.
He also noted that Greece has seen a big improvement over the past few months, driven by a positive approach by its hoteliers to price renegotiations. In January, Greece was 25% down but we talked to the hotel associations, even the government got involved. Now its only 5% down.
Spain however, was not quite as proactive and is still suffering as a result.
Manny also updated the analyst community on its purchase of Gold Medal for up to 87m, announced before Christmas. Were still waiting for approval from the Competition Commission, and expect an announcement around 30 March. Were pretty confident.
He also revealed that the business has not decided on its fuel hedging policy for 2010, with the hedging rates on offer coming in higher than the current spot rate. He said that this is a concern for all UK tour operators, with the result that Summer 2010 brochures will be launched significantly later than usual.
Because of the uncertainty over forward rates on fuel, its been decided that the industry will delay brochure launches. Typically, Summer 2010 would be released in late April, early May. This year it could be July.