HOLIDAYMAKERS booked with tour operator MyTravel were today told not to panic after the group unveiled losses of £910.9m.
Chief executive Peter Mr McHugh sought to reassure customers, saying: "I understand the anxiety but there's no chance we are going to go down at any minute.
"The critical element is cash, and while a loss of £910m is a very large figure, only a small proportion is a cash loss."
Mr McHugh conceded that 2003 had been "an extremely poor year" for the Manchester-based group, which owns the Going Places chain with a branch at the Kingsgate centre in Huddersfield.
Losses for the year to September 30 included one-off costs totalling £472.7m - mainly caused by a review of the value of MyTravel's assets.
Operating losses plunged to £358.3m compared with £20.4m a year ago.
Turnover at MyTravel's UK businesses fell by 5% to £2.34bn as factors such as the Iraq war deterred early bookings.
A higher proportion of holidays sold at cheaper prices towards the end of the summer also hit the group as operating losses for the UK widened to £325.4m from £24.1m last time.
Mr McHugh said the group had "significantly under-estimated" the extent of the shake-up needed for the UK business.
Mr McHugh said MyTravel aimed to improve its performance in 2004 and return to profitability in 2005.
He said winter bookings were in line with expectations - but bookings for summer, 2004 had declined in line with the rest of the travel industry.
As Airtours, the group became one of the UK's biggest tour operators in the late 1990s. In 1998, it paid £12.9m to buy Huddersfield-based Travelworld from former Town chairman Terry Fisher.
But the group endured the "worst" year in its history in 2002 after being hit by the post-September 11 slump in tourism.
MyTravel issued two profit warnings in three months and axed 2,000 jobs.