Airtours bugged by y2k : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Airtours bugged by Y2K Stay-at-home revelers cause 1Q loss to double at U.K. travel firm February 16, 2000: 6:28 a.m. ET

LONDON (Reuters) - British holiday firm Airtours Wednesday admitted the leisure industry misread the public's millennium plans at the end of 1999, as lower-than-expected demand for holiday-season travel helped double the company's first-quarter loss. "In the whole of the leisure industry people got it wrong -- it was priced too high and we underestimated the number of people who just wanted to stay at home and celebrate the millennium with family and friends," Finance Director Tim Byrne told Reuters. Costs resulting from the millennium effect of heavy discounting and keeping aircraft on the ground would amount to about 15 million pounds ($24 million), Byrne said. In the three months ended Dec. 31, always weak period for the firm, Airtours posted a pretax loss of 40.5 million pounds ($64.33 million) before goodwill, amortization and one-time items, Revenue at the company - which the European Commission last year prevented from buying U.K. rival First Choice (FCD) - rose 6 percent to 751.2 million pounds. The company's stock fell almost 6 percent to 256 pence in early trading in London. Airtours (AIR) shares have halved in value since June last year. Byrne said the poor results also reflected an increased loss in Germany, where Airtours has made substantial investments to expand business. Nevertheless, next summer's bookings in Germany were up 65 percent from last year, while winter bookings had nearly doubled, he said. Overall summer bookings for the group were up 7 percent on last year

-- Martin Thompson (, February 16, 2000

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