Dunkirk spirit contributes to Thomas Cook upbeat trading

Thomas Cook has reported healthy summer trading, saying that customers are not letting the weaker economic climate get in the way of their summer holiday plans.However its chief executive Manny Fontela-Novoa revealed that short breaks are proving the first casualty of the slowdown, as consumers are saving spare cash for the traditional summer holiday.He said: “People seem to be cutting back on what they consider discretionary spending, like weekends away in Barcelona or Madrid, but on all inclusive and 4 and 5 star holidays people are not doing so.”

The group said it is on target for the current financial year, despite signs tighter household spending and rising airline charges.

Booking for this winter and the following summer 2009 are ahead of last year, whilst long-haul destinations are proving the most popular with customers.

The company posted a rise in revenues for the nine months to the end of June, at nearly £5.3bn compared with £4.87bn a year ago. But its pre-tax loss increased slightly to £200.9m, from £199.2m a year ago.

The UK’s second largest operator revealed it plans to take steps to increase next summer’s flexibility on capacity, cost base and fuel hedging. It has benefited from having hedged its crude oil needs at 92% for 08/09.