Thomas Cook travel group logs quarterly loss

Debt-ridden travel firm Thomas Cook said Thursday that it fell into the red in the group's third quarter, hit by challenging trade and higher costs.

Europe's second largest travel company suffered an underlying operating loss of £26.5 million in the three months to June, it said in a trading update. That compared with a profit of £20.1 million in the same period of last year.

"This (loss) reflects the challenging trading environments across all markets and increased operating costs," the group said in the statement.

Sales retreated 6.0 percent to £2.29 billion, while net debt jumped to £1.099 billion from £902.5 million last time around.

Thomas Cook has been battered in recent times by the weak global economy, recession in Britain, restructuring charges, high fuel costs, and unrest in countries such as Tunisia and Egypt.

The debt-plagued group came close to collapse last November when it was forced to request a vital credit line from banks.

Earlier this year, it clinched a £1.4-billion deal with lenders to extend the maturity of its bank loans to 2015.

As part of the group's turnaround strategy, Thomas Cook sold its aircraft fleet and five Spanish hotels during the reporting period. It also agreed to dispose of its Indian division.

Chief executive Harriet Green, who was appointed in May to help overhaul Thomas Cook, added that it had been through "difficult" times.

"My initial focus is to review our businesses, quickly establish priorities and develop a clear plan to reinvigorate Thomas Cook, which I expect to be able to present to you next Spring," Green said in the statement.

"The group has been through a difficult period, but much has been achieved which has strengthened the balance sheet and improved liquidity.

"The strength of the group's brands and the quality of its businesses and people provides a foundation from which to bring the business back to full strength."

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