Comment: Crises are the norm for travel

TWgroup editor Lucy HuxleySince 9/11, the travel industry has lurched from one disruption to another.

Sars in 2003; the tsunami in 2004; bombings in Egypt in 2005; the airport security scare in 2006; the chaotic opening of Terminal 5 and collapse of XL in 2008; swine flu in 2009; and now the ash crisis.

And it has been a crisis. Not just for the stranded passengers, but for the airlines, operators and agents trying to cope with the fallout of having UK airspace closed for an unprecedented six days.

Whether all those affected will be able to withstand this financially remains to be seen. Everyone has taken a considerable hit – and we can expect months of wrangling about who pays which bills.

But while all companies’ balance sheets will be weaker, some will undoubtedly come out of this with a stronger reputation.

The crisis has exposed the fact that dynamically-packaged breaks don’t give customers the protection that a full package does and Tui and Thomas Cook have scored huge brownie points this week.

Yet again, many holidaymakers had no idea they weren’t actually on a ‘package’ until something went wrong and they had zero recourse.

They also discovered there was no central body that was responsible; nor is there a government fund to assist them.

Travel Weekly has been demanding the next government appoints a dedicated travel and tourism minister. The events of the past week make the case.

Did travel cope well with the crisis?Discuss it on travelhub

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