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Ebookers - the online travel outfit - is to cut jobs as part of a "significant" restructuring programme to cut overheads.

Staff are being told of the plans today, although the full extent of the job cuts will not be made public until May when the company reports its next round of financials.

As part of the restructuring, Ebookers is to standardise its website and systems technologies and dispose of nine retail outlets.

It also plans to remove "duplicate functions and delayer management following our reorganised business structure" and to cut staff as the operation strives to make its business more efficient.

In a statement Ebookers said: "We are announcing a reorganisation and cost restructuring of the company following the installation of new technologies and successful internet conversion of offline acquisitions to the internet. This includes some reduction in headcount."

News of the "significant cost reduction programme" coincided with the publication of financial results for 2003. Although turnover was up 109 per cent to £67m from £32m in 2002 the company also increased pre-tax losses from £12.3m to £14.9m.

Chairman Dinesh Dhamija remained upbeat insisting that 2003 ended strongly despite being a tough year hit by the Iraq war, the SARS epidemic and a very hot European summer persuading would-be long-haul travellers to stay at home.

"Said Mr Dhamija: "The success of our internet strategy means that we can announce today a significant cost reduction programme that will further improve the efficiency of the company. We look forward to continued strong growth for the year."

In a separate announcement Ebookers announced plans to raise $200m (£108m) in the US to fund further expansion of the company. ®

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