30 JULY 2018
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Reports of a possible break-up of the 177-year-old Thomas Cook travel empire surfaced yesterday after The Sunday Times said the company was considering selling off its airline and selling a stake to an outside investor.
The story was picked up by Reuters news agency, which quoted the newspaper as saying internal discussions had been held but were at an early stage and no change was likely imminently.
The airline, with a fleet of 25 Airbus A321s and six A330-200s, is based in Manchester and serves worldwide destinations from there and Gatwick as well as eight other bases around the UK.
Reuters quoted the Times as saying the sale of a stake in the airline – possibly to the Chinese group Fosun, which is already a 12% shareholder in the Thomas Cook group – would make it easier for both the travel business and the airline to expand.
A Thomas Cook spokesman told the newspaper the company had previously said it was open to industry consolidation but that it had “no current plans” to sell its airline.
The Times report said an eventual move could reinvigorate the company “after years of turmoil”, noting Thomas Cook had been wrestling with how to pay down debt and fund growth amid fierce competition from budget airlines and travel booking websites.
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