Thomas Cook is lifted by deal on planes

Thomas Cook said yesterday it had raised nearly £200m by selling and leasing back 17 of its aircraft to give it more headroom on its banking facilities, as it posted widening half-year losses.

The troubled tour operator, which nearly collapsed into administration last year, said summer bookings from UK consumers were down by one per cent. But its trading has improved in recent weeks.

Thomas Cook safeguarded its immediate future by completing a £1.4bn debt-refinancing deal at the weekend but rival Tui Travel, the operator of Thomson Holidays, delivered an improved second quarter performance this week.

Cook's losses were £262.7m over the six months to March 31, following a deficit of £165.8m.