Plans for Thomas Cook OTA ‘well underway’

Thomas Cook’s drive to become one of the largest OTAs in Europe will start in October, according to comments in the travel companies interim results released this week.

In the section of the statement devoted to ‘strategic progress’, it said: “Plans for the online travel agency are now well underway and we expect the organisation to be largely in place for the commencement of the next financial year on 1 October 2010.

It added that “bookings of independent and mainstream products over the internet have risen by 11% year on year”.

Thomas Cook has previously said that it might consider buying a business in order to kickstart its online travel agency. A number of OTAs are thought to be of interest, but Thomas Cook remains tight-lipped. However, it does have “£800m of borrowing headroom” following a refinancing of the business.

Headline findings from its third quarter results show that full-year profits for the group will come in at the lower end of expectations. Chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said that bookings had not picked up in the UK following the ash cloud.

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