TUI Travel reports bounce back into profit

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TUI Travel, Europe's biggest tour operator, said on Monday that it had bounced back into annual net profits despite the weak economic climate, adding that it had won business from struggling rival Thomas Cook.

Earnings after tax amounted to £85 million ($133 million, 99 million euros) in the 12 months to the end of September, TUI Travel said in a results statement.

That compared with a net loss of £123 million in 2009/2010.

Pre-tax profit hit £144 million, which compared with a shortfall of £73 million. Revenues grew eight percent to £14.68 billion.

Chief executive Peter Long meanwhile said that recent growth in British sales was due "in part" to customers choosing TUI Travel over Thomas Cook.

The British rival was last month forced to renegotiate bank loans and delay Thomas Cook's annual results because of a slump in business, sparking fears over the health of Europe's second-biggest travel firm.

"If people aren't booking with Thomas Cook, then we would be the natural place for them to migrate to," Long told reporters after TUI Travel said it had posted profits despite Middle East unrest and weak consumer sentiment.

TUI Travel was helped by record earnings in Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and the Nordic region.

"These achievements reflect the strength of our strategy to increase differentiated and exclusive product sales, increase controlled distribution with a focus on online ... and our delivery of the turnaround and cost efficiency programmes," the group said.

TUI Travel was created in late 2007 from the merger of British travel group First Choice and the tourism activities of German travel giant TUI.

- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report -

© 2011 AFP

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