THE founder and chairman of leading British tour operator MyTravel (Airtours) resigned yesterday, just three months after postponing his retirement to steady the company and help pull it out of a financial crisis. Crossland, who regarded the Balearics, in particular Majorca, as one of the best holiday destinations in the world, despite being bitterly opposed to the tourist tax, and purchased the Bellevue complex in Alcudia, one of Europe's largest tourist resort developments, started the business 30 years ago when he bought a Lancashire travel agency which had two stores. At the end of last year when speculation about MyTravel's future was rife, many of its main competitors admitted that the tour operator's property portfolio in the Balearics was priceless, not only because of its quality establishments in choice locations, but also because of the local government building freeze. By 1980 he had built up the travel agency and started offering package holidays. When Airtours floated on the London stock market in 1987 its shares stood at 180p. At one point it was the world's biggest holiday business, worth £2billion . It currently has a market capitalisation of £74.2m. Last year, MyTravel, the re-branded Airtours, posted annual losses of £70 million, prompting Crossland to delay his retirement and retake the remains of the tour operator. It was also forced to restate its profits for the previous year when a black hole of a reported £50 million was discovered in its accounts. The tour operator, which was the forerunner of package holiday cruises with three ships once based in Palma during the summer, also owns Going Places, Late Escapes, Airtours holidays, Cresta and Aspro.


Crossland's deputy, Eric Sanderson, is to take over as non-executive chairman.< Crossland who is apparently standing down to make way for new directors, said yesterday “it has been a difficult decision after 40 years in the travel business, but I'm leaving MyTravel in excellent hands, I'm very proud of the company and its team and I hope they all continue with such success.” MyTravel has already sold over 150.000 summer package holidays in the UK to Majorca this year, dominating the market at present.


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