British travel group Thomas Cook could consider splitting its airline from the rest of operations and sell a stake to liberate some cash and repay debt.

The discussions around a possible sale are still at an early stage according to the Sunday Times, quoting anonymous sources. The minority stake could be offered to Fosun International Limited, a Chinese conglomerate which already holds a 12% share in the group.

Letting go of its transport business would allow the group, which is competing with low-cost carriers such as Ryanair, to focus finances on supporting and expanding its other activities, such as hotels.

However, Peter Fankhauser, CEO of the Thomas Cook Group, denied the information. “While we are open to consolidation where it makes sense for our business, we have no current plans to sell our airline”, he commented in an email addressed to the press.

Thomas Cook Group − a 177 years old company and the oldest travel agency still in activity − has been in a financial struggle for years due to the emergence of online holiday booking websites. In 2017, Brussels Airlines overtook operations of Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium.