TUI Travel claims it is already seeing the benefits of its integrated business with mainstream sales up across both First Choice and Thomson Holidays for 2008.

A trading statement from the merged business said 2008 mainstream UK and Ireland sales for First Choice are up 26%, with 3% more of the programme sold than this time last year and long-haul selling particularly strong. Thomson sales are 2% up on 8% less capacity. Margins overall are slightly ahead of last year.

Demand picked up for summer 2007 after a weak start and the group has continued to trade in line with expectations.

First Choice sales are up 6% on flat capacity driven by long-haul sales and a recovery in medium-haul sales on last year. Thomson sales are 4% down on lower capacity. This is mainly as a result of reducing capacity in package holiday sales and increasing component sales in the independent travel sector.

The business continues to be hit by higher Air Passenger Duty, introduced at the start of the year, and increased fuel costs.

Meanwhile, acquisitions remained a key priority for the group, which has spent £81.7 million on buying nine businesses this summer. Recent acquisitions include user review website Holidays Uncovered, and an online car broker.

TUI Travel chief executive Peter Long said: “I am pleased with the way the peak summer season has progressed and the signs for future seasons’ trading are encouraging, particularly in the UK. Acquisitions remain a key priority for TUI Travel.”