thomas cook
Thomas Cook’s cost cutting measure softened the blow of a decline in holidays to Egypt.Reuters

Cost cutting measures were British holiday makers Thomas Cook's saving grace as bookings to Egypt dropped by a quarter of a million, according to its first half results.

Holidays to Egypt fell by 250,000 in its first half, the six months leading to 31 March, amid political unrest in the North African country – resulting in a £131m drop in revenues and £14m slump in profits.

Despite this, losses over the winter months came to £187m, down from £217m on the previous year.

Thomas cook still managed to deliver growth of 39% like for like earnings before interest and tax, which "demonstrates not only the benefits of the group's increased financial strength that enables it to withstand such external events, but also, importantly, of its gathering earnings momentum," said Group chief executive Harriet Green.

Looking forward, Thomas Cook will continue with its cost saving plan as it tries to chip away at its debt, which now stands at £811m.

"Wave 1" of the plan was launched in 2012, running through to 2015, and is currently £20m ahead of schedule, increasing the target to £460m.

"Wave 2" will focus on the three years following 2015 and has a target of £400m.

Green said: "We have so far identified an initial proportion of benefits, which we have fully risk weighted, of £150 million, with substantially more to come."

The tour operator said that its summer booking performance is in line with predictions, with 60% sold across all markets and 66% in the UK. However, British bookings are 1% lower than last year with prices down 3%, which it blames on consumers looking to take shorter breaks.

Thomas Cook shares dropped by 5% in morning trading to 166.6p.