Tour operator MyTravel yesterday confirmed it is to reduce staff numbers by almost 2,000 as it moves to safeguard its future.

The figure includes 700 job losses announced two months ago and a further 600 workers who have already been told they are losing their jobs.

MyTravel - the former name for Airtours - said 500 positions would go in the next 18 months, mainly through normal staff turn-over.

The company has not given a breakdown of where the jobs will be lost, although a spokeswoman said only a small number of the 600 would be in the UK.

MyTravel put the job cutting proposals to its banks on Wednesday as it looks to recover from what it has called the worst year in its history.

The impact of September 11 and accounting problems left the company with annual losses of £72.8m. Since then, trading has been hit by the effect of the Iraq war on bookings.

The Manchester company, whose businesses include the Going Places chain, has about 15,000 of its 27,000 workforce in the UK. All the job cuts announced in February were in the UK, with most focusing on back office operations.

The company's new management team launched a strategic review in November as part of moves to persuade its banks to extend £250m credit facilities beyond the end of this year. Those talks with lenders are continuing.

The spokeswoman said the review, including the latest job cuts, would "return the company to a sound financial position".

Two weeks ago, at MyTravel's annual meeting in Manchester, chief executive Peter McHugh said bookings had deteriorated in recent weeks.

But he said summer demand was better than a year earlier and capacity cuts had helped the business cope with the downturn, brought about by fears over the Iraq conflict.

Mr McHugh also pointed out that rapid expansion in the past decade had left the company with a high fixed cost base - a problem that reduced its flexibility in times of economic woe.