Thomas Cook may scale back cuts amid signs of travel revival


German travel group Thomas Cook has said it may scale back plans for sharp cuts in hotel and flight capacity this summer amid signs that bookings were reviving more strongly than expected after the shock of September 11.

A spokesman for Europe's second-biggest travel firm said it would decide in the next few weeks whether to adjust a cost-cutting plan launched last year after fears that demand for flights and foreign holidays might collapse in the wake of the September attacks.

Thomas Cook chief executive Stefan Pichler told daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that bookings for the summer season - despite a weak start - were now in some cases over the weekly levels of the same period a year ago.

"We want to keep the decision about our capacity open for as long as possible, in order to assess the bookings situation," the spokesman said.

Pichler said that Thomas Cook had reduced capacity in its winter season by 17 per cent.

The company was expected to post earnings before taxes and amortisation (EBTA) of 155 million euros ($134 million) on sales of 8 billion euros for the business year ending October 31, 2001.

Earlier this month, Pichler said he expected a rebound in global travel by the end of this year and saw Thomas Cook's own profit stable in 2002.