homas Cook Group Plc, the European travel company created this month by a merger, said it plans to cut as many as 2,800 jobs to help reduce costs and fend off competition from online travel agents.

Six U.K. offices and about 150 travel stores will close, affecting at least 2,500 workers, the Peterborough, England- based company said today in a Regulatory News Service statement. That will leave 800 retail outlets, it said.

Travel companies are combining to reduce costs as online competitors and discount airlines cut prices. The Thomas Cook merger will save at least 95 million pounds ($190 million) a year before tax, MyTravel Group Plc said in April as it prepared to combine with German retailer KarstadtQuelle AG's tourism unit.

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