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TUI Travel has said it was on track to meet earnings expectations for the full-year and should deliver a strong performance in its key summer trading period.

The world’s biggest tour operator reported bookings are well ahead of last year.

Business has picked up in the UK. That helped offset a sluggish performance in France, which has seen weak demand for holidays to destinations in North Africa in recent months.

“Demand for leisure travel is growing, and we have seen an improved summer 2012 trading performance in all mainstream markets except France, which has been hit by the slow recovery of popular North African destinations, especially Egypt,” TUI Travel Chief Executive Peter Long told reporters.

The group, which owns Thomson and First Choice, has benefited from difficulties experienced by main rival Thomas Cook, which issued a string of profit warnings last year as civil unrest in North Africa and the economic downturn in Britain hurt bookings.

Thomas Cook last week secured a three-year refinancing lifeline worth 1.4 billion pounds (1.73 billion euros), giving it more time to turn the business around.

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