TUI Travel losses widen on weak British demand, ash cloud

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TUI Travel reported on Thursday an increase in annual losses as Europe's biggest tourism operator was hit by tough trading conditions in Britain and the impact of the volcanic ash cloud chaos in April.

The British group said its net losses widened to 104 million pounds (124 million euros, 162 million dollars) in the year to September after a loss after tax of 67 million pounds in 2008-2009.

Sales were down 3.3 percent to 13.4 billion pounds in 2009-2010.

Earnings were "affected by a weaker trading performance in the UK," said TUI Travel chief executive Peter Long.

"The early summer period was disrupted by a number of factors that increased customer uncertainty, including the volcanic ash related airspace closures," he added in the group's earnings statement.

TUI Travel said that travel chaos caused by the Iceland volcanic ash cloud earlier this year had cost the group 104 million pounds.

TUI Travel has suffered generally in the economic downturn and continuing costs linked to its creation in late 2007 in the merger of British travel group First Choice and the tourism activities of German travel giant TUI.

© 2010 AFP

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