Travel group Thomas Cook said it had managed to hold on to market share despite tough trading conditions, rebuffing comments by rival TUI Travel which has said it is benefiting from its rivals difficulties.

Thomas Cook, which secured a rescue package from lenders last November, said it continued to be adversely impacted by economic uncertainty across Europe and political upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa and expects the current year to be challenging.

The world's oldest travel firm said, however, that it had been encouraged by trading in Britain.

I have been encouraged by how our bookings have developed, particularly in the UK where our market share for both the winter and summer seasons remains broadly stable, acting Chief Executive Sam Weihagen said in a statement on Wednesday.

Europe's second biggest travel firm by sales also said it planned to sell its majority stake in Thomas Cook India.

Thomas Cook's future has been in question since it asked lenders to come to its rescue twice in five weeks, sending its shares into freefall, after it warned of a possible debt default.

The company said in December it planned to close 200 underperforming shops and 500 hotels and is lining up further disposals, as it battles to cut debt and restore confidence among investors and customers.

Thomas Cook issued three profit warnings last year, culminating in the departure of Chief Executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa in August.

It has been hit hard by tough trading conditions, especially in Britain, where its core customers base of families with young Children has been particularly affected by tough economic conditions. It has also been affected by unrest in popular destinations such as Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

Thomas Cook said it made a loss of 91 million pounds in the first quarter, compared with a loss of 37 million pounds the year before. Tour operators traditionally make a loss in loss in the half of the year that doesn't include the key summer season.

(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Paul Hoskins)