Thomas Cook may sell some aircraft

Thomas Cook Group confirmed yesterday that it was in advanced talks with lenders to extend financing arrangements as part of a strategic review that could also result in the possible sale and leaseback of some aircraft.

The 170-year-old travel group has been forced to consider fundraising proposals after it issued three profit warnings last year as young families with children cut back on holidays.

“Thomas Cook Group confirms that it is in advanced discussions with its banking group about extending its financing arrangements,” said the world’s oldest travel company. “In addition to the revised financing arrangements, the previously announced asset disposal programme and the sale of Thomas Cook India, the group is exploring the possible sale and leaseback of certain aircraft.”

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Thomas Cook endured a dire 2011 during which a sales slump culminated in the departure of chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa in August and a funding crunch requiring the company to ask its banks for new financing.

Having secured a £200m rescue package from lenders in November, it has now opened new talks to give it more financial headroom, however that could come at a heavy price for the group, which is grappling with £890m of debt.

A spokeswoman for Royal Bank of Scotland Group said on Sunday it was part of the lending group working to extend credit for Thomas Cook, after a Sunday newspaper reported that the group was close to securing a £1.2bn lifeline from its lenders.