Thomas Cook boss quits after bad year for travel firm

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Thomas Cook's chief executive resigned on Wednesday following a disastrous year for Europe's second largest travel firm, the company announced in a statement.

Manny Fontenla-Novoa, who took over four years ago, has presided over three profit warnings in the last year linked to unrest in key holiday destinations Egypt and Tunisia and a poor performance in Thomas Cook's British division.

It is believed Fontenla-Novoa agreed to stand down after accepting responsibility for the poor performance in Britain.

Deputy chief executive Sam Weihagen will run the business until a new chief executive is found.

Fontenla-Novoa joined the group in 1996 after it acquired SunWorld, a business he founded.

Confirming his resignation, he said: "Thomas Cook and its people have a sound heritage and I have been proud to have been part of the company."

Thomas Cook's latest profit warnings last month showed it expected full-year 2011 operating profits of £320 million (363 million euros, $506 million), compared with 2010's £362.2 million.

On Wednesday, Thomas Cook said it remained on track to meet its profit target.

Shares in the company, which have lost two-thirds of their value this year, were up more than five percent to 63.90 pence following the announcement of Fontenla-Novoa's departure.

© 2011 AFP

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