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Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 08:05 GMT
First Choice profits hit by US attacks
Crowded speech in Spain
Fewer summer holidays are being offered for 2002
Profits at First Choice, the UK's fourth biggest holiday firm, have fallen by 27.5% over the last year to 55m ($78.9m), largely to the 11 September attacks on the US.

Investors had already been warned that attacks would cut 10m off the pre-tax profit but the one-off cost involved in making over 1,100 staff redundant cost has added an extra 9m.

But the group said it core profit, before exceptionals and goodwill, rose 6% to 79.6m, at the higher end of analysts' expectations.

The firm, which operates in 13 countries and carried 5 million passengers last year, did not follow through on earlier hints that there may be further job cuts.

No holiday

Aside from the job losses, First Choice had already cut is aircraft fleet and reduced tour capacity by up to 40%, in a move aimed at saving 20m a year.

As a result First Choice now says it has fewer unsold summer holidays than at this time last year.

The UK travel industry as a whole has cut the number of holidays on offer to maintain margins.

In past years, a glut of summer holidays has resulted in cut-throat competition and radically lower profitability.

The company also has been trying to reduce its reliance on competitors selling First Choice holidays through the roll-out of the Holiday Hypermarket out-of-town retail format.

Chris Long, First Choice Holidays
"There will be a lot less holidays for sale next summer"
See also:

04 Oct 01 | Business
First Choice cuts 1,100 jobs
12 Jun 01 | Business
First Choice shakes off winter blues
28 Jun 00 | Business
German firm 'to buy First Choice'
16 Jun 00 | Business
First Choice losses increase
18 May 00 | Business
First Choice in 200m cruise deal
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