The tumble in financial markets across the globe has hit travel firms at a particularly bad time.

On Thursday the value of London’s main FTSE 100 index fell more than at any time in the past four-and-a-half years. It slumped 4.1%, or 250 points, to end at 5,859, with sharp losses echoed across Europe and Asia.

Thomas Cook’s shares were launched on the London Stock Exchange during June at 333p. They have since lost nearly a quarter of their value and now stand at 259p.

At the end of June, Thomas Cook Group saw its combined businesses reduce their pre-tax seasonal losses by €25.4 million to €293 million for the six months to April 30 2007, and cut their operating loss by €22.9 million to €323.1 million. It also began to talk to staff about cutting up to 2,800 jobs.

Meanwhile, First Choice’s shares have fallen from 360p at the beginning of June to 260p yesterday, a fall of around 27%.

In mid June, First Choice Holidays reported its losses rose from £76.5 million to £82.5 million year on year for the six months to April 30, hit by £146 million of acquisitions spend and increased fuel and airport passenger duty costs.