The Thomas Cook Group has reported continued strong trading for this summer while sales for winter 2008/09 are “encouraging”.

Speaking as he announced the group’s half year results until March 31, chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said the average selling price of a holiday sold in the UK for the forthcoming summer is 3% up.

Bookings may be 5% down but this is following a 10% cut in the operator’s capacity.

Similarly for winter 2008/09, Fontenla-Novoa said bookings are 4% ahead of where they were this time last year with margins again described as “encouraging”.

He added: “I’m delighted with our performance over the winter and we are in a very good position for the summer.

“The rising cost of fuel and translational impact of the fall in Sterling against the Euro have made the achievement of our Euro-denominated results more difficult, but I remain confident that we will achieve our goals for this year.

“For the longer term, our strategy is on track, our merger synergies are coming through and we continue to target €620 million of operating profit in 2009/10.”