News tipped to overtake Jet2 and Tui in Atol list by 2026

A leading industry advisor has predicted will be the biggest Atol holder in “two to three years” despite the UK top-two Jet2Holidays and Tui extending their lead in the September Atol renewals.

White Hart Associates head of travel Chris Photi made the forecast at the recent Travel Weekly Future of Travel Conference. However, Jet2Holidays and Tui added almost 1.4 million Atol carryings from October while Booking suffered a blow to its ambition to sell more holidays, or what it calls ‘connected trips’, when the European Commission blocked its acquisition of flight platform eTraveli last week.

The latest Atol figures, released by the CAA on Monday, show Jet2 added 856,000 to take its licence to 6.7 million and Tui 522,000 to give it an Atol for 5.6 million. Tui’s Marella cruises also added 91,000 to take its licence to 337,00 and bring it within the top 10.

MoreLeading tour operators remain confident despite headwinds

All top-five Atol holders increased capacity, adding 2.7 million passengers to their licences, with Booking adding 331,000 to take it to 2.4 million and easyJet Holidays 771,000 to take its Atol close to 2.3 million and bring it within the top five. We Love Holidays also added 229,000 to remain number three with an Atol for 2.7 million.

Photi noted the top-20 Atol holders changed substantially in the last decade as “companies went bust” and others “came in with a bang” and speculated on the top-two ranking “in two or three years”, suggesting: “ will be number one by some distance, and easyJet Holidays will be there.”

Yet despite both challengers increasing capacity for the coming 12 months, the top two plus Tui-owned Marella currently hold Atols for almost three times as many passengers as Booking and easyJet.

Booking confirmed it would appeal against the EC’s block on its €1.63 billion takeover of eTraveli, noting it had been cleared by the UK Competition and Markets Authority. The online giant, which already sources flights from eTraveli and extended its partnership with the company following the ruling, insisted: “The Commission is wrong on both the facts of the case and the law.”

The EC ruled the acquisition would allow Booking “to strengthen its dominant position on the market”, noting: “Booking is the leading hotel OTA [in Europe] while eTraveli is one of the main providers of flight OTA services . . . [when] flights have the highest chance to lead to the cross-selling of accommodation.”

The Commission decided the acquisition would “reduce competition and increase prices for hotels and, possibly, for consumers” and said: “Booking did not offer remedies sufficient to address these concerns.” has been talking about offering ‘connected trips’ since at least 2019 and chief executive Glenn Fogel emphasised the strategy as recently as August, saying: “We continue to build out our Connected Trip vision, but are pleased with the progress so far.”

However, a results statement for the three months to June made no reference to connected trips bookings or revenue despite “a record summer travel season”, and 89% of Booking’s $5.5 billion in quarterly revenue came from accommodation reservations.

Travel Weekly has sought comment from Booking on its sale of connected trips and plans to develop these.

MoreLeading tour operators remain confident despite headwinds

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