Thomas Cook is planning for a worse economic situation in the UK, group chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa has revealed.
Speaking at the launch of the group’s half-year results to March 31, 2009, Fontenla-Novoa said he was personally hopeful the recession had now “bottomed out”.
But he admitted: “We are still planning on the situation getting slightly worse because we hear unemployment is going to increase to three million by the end of this year. If that’s true, there could be a further one million unemployed in the UK.”
He added: “It’s going to be a long recovery process and that’s what we’re planning for.”
The consolidation of the big four travel companies into two – Thomas Cook and TUI Travel – and the collapse of the XL Leisure Group last year had all reduced the number of holidays on sale out of the UK and had helped the industry survive the current climate, he said. “We have taken out 20% capacity out the market in the UK in the last two years and TUI Travel has taken more than that.”
Meanwhile, Fontenla-Novoa said Thomas Cook will continue to pursue acquisitions in Russia and China but said that no others were currently planned.
“Apart from Russia and China, which are strategically important to us, we are not planning anything from an acquisition point of view. But if opportunities come up we will look at them,” he said.
* Lates summer price war unlikely, Manny claims (Travel Weekly, May 14 2009)
* Thomas Cook reassures shop staff after Dublin cutbacks (Travel Weekly, May 14 2009)
* Thomas Cook reports 12% drop in summer holiday bookings (Travel Weekly, May 14 2009)