The Thomas Cook Group has reported average selling prices over the last six weeks are 14% ahead of what they were in the same period this time last year.

The strong prices as the operator enters the lates market means overall selling prices for 2008 are 5% up on last year while in the UK the group has 19% fewer holidays to sell this year.

As the group announced its unaudited results for the six month period ending April 30, it was also revealed margins are up on last year, although the overall number of bookings is down 6% following a 9% decrease in capacity.

Thomas Cook Group chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said: “I’m delighted with our performance over the winter and we are in a good position for the summer season. 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 £480 million of operating profit in 2009/10.”

However, the average year-on-year selling price for winter 2008/09 is down 1% to date although this is following a 4% increase in bookings and an 8% reduction in capacity.

Fontenla-Novoa added the group has hedged all of its crude oil needs for the remainder of this financial year and 93% of its jet fuel requirements. The group’s foreign currency requirements are 100% hedged too for the remainder of the financial year.

The Thomas Cook Group has also announced Jurgen Buser will replace Ludger Heuberg as the group’s chief financial officer as of July 1. Heuberg is standing down for personal and family reasons.