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Online travel agent Ebookers cut its losses in the third quarter thanks to a lower wage bill arising from job cuts. The firm said it is still in discussions about a possible sale and "a further announcement will be made in due course".

Gross sales for the three months ended 30 September 2004 were £159m, up from £145m for the same period of 2003. The firm made a loss for the period of £2m, down from a loss of £3.2m for the third quarter of 2003.

Ebookers has cut £1.3m from its annual wage bill. It has moved more sales online. In the third quarter of this year 62 per cent of sales were made online compared to 46 per cent in the third quarter of 2003.

The period also saw a small increase in non-air business - 36 per cent of total turnover up from 33 per cent in the same period of 2003. Online and web-enabled hotel bookings make up the majority of this business. Ebookers expects to introduce a "second generation dynamic packaging booking engine" in December. Its booking website hotelbookers.com should be live by the end of the year.

Ebookers expects trading in the fourth quarter to be satisfactory it expects the recovery of European mid and long haul travel to continue and more European consumers using the internet to make travel purchases.

Michael Healy, CFO at Ebookers, said: "This has been a quarter of improved performance. We have grown the top line, and maintained our margin. Through restructuring and staff reductions of 360 people, we have managed to improve profitability. This is despite continued investment in technology and non-air businesses, the full benefits of which will be realised next year."

More details here. ®

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