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Thomas Cook's Trade Plummets As Arab Spring Affects Bookings

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THOMAS COOK
Thomas Cook In Talks With Banks After Shares Continue To Plummet | Getty Images

Thomas Cook has said it is in further talks with its banks to shore up its finances after trade continued to deteriorate amid plummeting consumer confidence.

The tour operator wants to adjust the size of its debts to boost cashflow through the seasonal low point of December and January - following a similar move last month when it secured an additional £100 million.

Thomas Cook - which is reportedly considering the closure of around 200 travel agencies - postponed Thursday's publication of its full-year results until after the discussions with its banks have concluded.

The group has also suffered from the impact of the Arab spring, which has hit bookings to Tunisia and Egypt, destinations popular with France and Russia, as well as UK holidaymakers.

Thomas Cook shares opened 62% lower.

The company is expected to report a 31% slide in underlying profits to £191.1 million following a year which has seen its share price plunge 80%, numerous profits warnings and the exit of its chief executive, Manny Fontenla-Novoa.

The dismal year prompted the holiday group, which at the end of last year had 31,000 staff, to axe its dividend as it moves to repair its battered finances, which include debts of close to £1 billion.

The group insisted it had not fallen behind with any of its payments and a spokeswoman said talks with the lenders were an "act of prudence" ahead of the seasonal low point.

Thomas Cook, Europe's second biggest tour operator after TUI Travel, selling more than 22 million holidays a year in the UK, is understood to be considering the closure of 200 of its outlets following its recent merger with the Co-op's UK high street travel businesses.

The tie-up created the UK's largest high street travel agent and second largest foreign exchange group with more than 1,200 shops.