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Thomas Cook, Air Berlin ditch Condor sale

FRANKFURT, July 11- British travel group Thomas Cook has dropped plans to sell its German unit Condor to low-cost airline Air Berlin, and has also suspended a share buy-back programme, Thomas Cook said on Friday.

Thomas Cook and Air Berlin have notified German competition authorities of their decision and "agreed that the existing agreement be terminated," the statement said.

Air Berlin had planned to buy 75.1 percent of Condor, owned by Thomas Cook.

Although talks would continue on "the feasibility of an alternative transaction, Thomas Cook is also pursuing a range of other available options for Condor," the statement added.

In order to leave the path open to such options, the travel group said it "has decided to suspend its share buy back programme until further notice."

In June, Thomas Cook, a leading travel group, said its first-half losses widened to 191.3 million pounds (240 million euros, 378 million dollars) on costs linked to a merger with MyTravel.

Air Berlin, meanwhile has been hit hard by rising oil prices, and said last month it would trim its own fleet by 10 percent, cut long-distance services by nearly one-third and return 14 leased planes to their owners.

It was the first such announcement by Air Berlin, which has launched an ambitious expansion programme.

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