Thomas Cook Group Seals Aircraft Financing Deal

LONDON -- The shares of Thomas Cook were flat at 153 pence late this morning after the travel group confirmed it had secured a deal to lease nine Airbus jets from General Electric's aviation division.

GECAS has agreed to buy six of the jets from Airbus, which will be leased to Thomas Cook for 12 years, as part of an agreement signed in January 2011. Thomas Cook said today it will lease a further three A321-200 jets from GECAS at market rates.

This deal represents the latest stage of Thomas Cook's ongoing fleet renewal program, and comes less than a fortnight after the travel group announced its plans for serious capital reorganization.

The group recently revealed it would attempt to drive efficiencies and slash operating costs by consolidating its U.K., German, Scandinavian, and Belgian airlines.

Thomas Cook's head of air travel, Christoph Debus, remarked: "These commitments, as part of the renewal of our narrow body fleet, represent significant further progress as we continue to invest in the future of our business and work with our key partners to deliver a holiday experience in line with what our customers expect from a market leader such as the Thomas Cook Group."

With a market cap of £1.4 billion, Thomas Cook is valued at 27 times its forward earnings, and is expected to offer no dividend this year.

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