Britons putting off summer holiday bookings after terrorist violence, says Thomas Cook

The FTSE 250-listed travel operator reported that it had sold only 40 per cent of its summer trips this year, below the level achieved this time a year earlier, with consumer confidence affected by concerns over terrorism in certain key destinations, such as Egypt and Tunisia.

Peter Fankhauser, the company’s chief executive, told The Telegraph the volatile geopolitical backdrop was causing some customers to postpone booking their holidays, leading to a later booking pattern.

He added that the business had moved flights away from turmoil in Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt, in favour of increased demand for travel to the western Mediterranean.

“Against this backdrop I remain confident that we are doing all the right things as a business,” Mr Fankhauser continued. “We know that customers want a summer holiday but we can see that some are leaving it later to book this year as they consider their options.”

An attack on holidaymakers in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, at the beginning of the year has dissuaded tourists from visiting the country. Violence in Egypt and Tunisia last year has also made would-be travellers wary of these destinations.

Thomas Cook sold 90pc of its winter holidays, it reported, two percentage points lower than it had done at the same time last year. Average trip prices were 3pc higher, with total bookings down 3pc, which the business said broadly reflected cuts to capacity.

Last month rival Tui, which owns the Thomson and First Choice holiday brands, said that it had suffered a 40pc drop off in summer bookings to Turkey, as tourists shun the country because of fears over terrorism.

The Anglo-German tour operator revealed it had experienced “a significant shift in demand away from Turkey”, with holidaymakers instead favouring safer destinations in mainland Spain, the Canary Islands and Greece.

Shares in Thomas Cook fell 5pc in early trading, alongside a slump in the wider airlines sector following news of a terrorist attacks this morning at an airport in Brussels.