Thomas Cook pretax loss widens as costs rise

However, UK bookings for the key summer period are now flat, with average selling prices two per cent higher.

Fankhauser said an expanded holiday offering to Greece and a number of smaller destinations across Europe was paying off, with bookings to Greece now up by over 40%, while demand for destinations such as Cyprus, Bulgaria, Portugal and Croatia has been strong.

It said it has seen a massive surge in popularity in bookings for Majorca and the Canary Islands where hotel prices have risen by eight per cent as a result of the increased demand.

The travel agent saw a one per cent increase in revenue, to £1.6 billion, for the three months to December 31st, with losses narrowing two per cent to £49 million.

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He said the group would not be drawn into a price war and had "taken a deliberate decision to focus on higher margin, quality holidays".

Thomas Cook's annual report said it meant to give him the chance to achieve an award of 200% of his base salary for 2017 to reflect his significant impact on the business. He said these include Cyprus, Bulgaria and Croatia.

Demand for bookings to Greece were up 40 per cent compared to previous year.

But it has made a good start to the new year, with 31 percent of its summer holidays already sold, with bookings 9 percent ahead of last year.

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While summer sales in northern and continental Europe are well ahead of a year ago, United Kingdom demand may be moderating, with bookings up 1 percent and package holiday reservations "slightly behind".

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: " Times are tough in the European travel industry and Thomas Cook isn't having the best of it, though the good news is things don't seem to be getting any worse".

Therefore Thomas Cook expects the Group's positive performance to be weighted more towards the second half than usual.

The firm said in its annual report that share bonuses under a long-term plan had been cut from 200 per cent of base salary to 165 per cent after discussions with shareholders.

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