Threat of War Impacting Holiday Bookings

The threat of war with Iraq and the trend towards buying holidays at the last minute was causing a significant slowdown in bookings for the summer season, reported First Choice tour operators. First Choiceå‘s chairman, Ian Clubb, said at the annual meeting that they would be cutting costs and capacity to counteract the dip in bookings.
A number of holidays have been withdrawn and part of the aircraft fleet would be grounded for the start of the season. Summer bookings were down 4% against the same period last year. Since the start of the year, demand in the UK and Germany has been 15% lower than for the same period in 2001.

First Choice
has laid off 15,000 employees over the past year and has concentrated on higher margin niche offerings, such as sailing, trekking and golfing, which now account for more than 50% of operating profits. These areas rose from £1.3m last year to £75.7m before goodwill amortisation and exceptional items.
The shares closed down 4.5p at 64.5p.

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