The year starts with a ‘book early’ message, as the big operators say they’ve cut capacity by 2%, and the total number of summer 2006 holidays is just 1% above 2005 sales.
Early indications point to a buoyant January, although Travelcare general manager Amanda Williams warns complex high-street messages could confuse the customer.
ABTA hails the High Court’s decision to quash the CAA’s guidance on ATOL regulations as a victory for travel agents.
ABTA claims the outcome clarifies a holiday made up of component parts is not considered by law to be a package, and has lifted the threat of a prison sentence for agents who package without an ATOL.
Outbreaks of bird flu in Turkey start to hit bookings.
STA Travel UK managing director Litsa Constantinou quits, and Costa Cruises UK manager Paul Ellerby, becomes sales and marketing director of EasyCruise.
Former ABTA chief executive Ian Reynolds is appointed chairman of travel insurance company Citybond Suretravel.
ABTA announces operator members will no longer be required to have a bond with the association. Chief executive Mark Tanzer says the onus is on agents to tell consumers whether they are protected.
A report from the Transport Select Committee says the Government made the wrong decision in October 2005 when it ditched the idea for a £1 consumer levy.
Virgin Atlantic comes out on top in a consumer survey of travel brands, while Thomson signs an exclusive deal with loyalty card Nectar.
First Choice breaks off commercial negotiations with Triton after the consortium rejects the company’s second offer of 10% base commission rate.
The Office of Fair Trading launches a probe into ABTA’s conduct following a complaint that ABTA broke its own code of conduct when dealing with the collapse of agency chain Mossley Travel in August 2003.
Cadogan Holidays suspends managing director Gary David.
Thomas Cook Signature managing director Joanna Edmunds leaves as part of a shake-up that sees 325 jobs axed at Thomas Cook.
Holiday Extras, Flight Centre, Avis, Mondial, Hays Travel and Fred Olsen make it into The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For. Audley Travel, C&M Recruitment and HotelConnect make it into The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Firms to Work For, while Thomas Cook is named as one of the 20 Best Big Companies.
British Airways announces it will axe 400 jobs, with the closure of its 17 BA Travel Shops and its Belfast call centre, in August. BA’s pilots threaten to strike over pensions.
Midconsort launches a bid to poach members from Triton Travel Group, while First Choice Holidays pledges not to reopen commercial negotiations with Triton. The company’s retail operation says it wants independent agencies to join as franchisees.
Campaigners for a £1 consumer levy are forced to admit defeat after the House of Lords votes against it.
Jean Rodel leaves Harry Weeks Travel after 14 years as managing director.
Cadogan managing director Gary David is sacked.
Agents are urged to stick to their switch-selling guns and resist short-term financial inducements offered by operators. Agents claim Thomson and First Choice are trying to woo independents with additional payments to sell excess stock, although both deny offering such incentives.
The Balearics government abandons plans to slap a tax on car-hire rentals.
Excel Airways buys Kosmar Holidays.
Harvey World Travel sets its sights on becoming the UK’s fifth major travel agency brand, with 300 shops. Currently with 24 shops, it claims it will grow to 100 in the summer.
Bomb blasts in the Red Sea resort in Dahab at the end of April kill 23 holidaymakers and injure 80, including two Brits.
First Choice marketing director Tim Williamson weighs up whether to ditch sponsorship of ITV’s I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!
Former ABTA head of legal affairs Riccardo Nardi is banned from practising law by the Bar Council. He was jailed in March 2005 after pleading guilty to defrauding the association of £1m.
A presentation by PricewaterhouseCoopers at the first Triton Travel Group conference in Tenerife says only 56% of members are supporting preferred suppliers and Triton members demand more cohesion.
Virgin Holidays forms an alliance with Harvey World Travel, enabling the operator’s name to be rolled out on the high street. The deal angers Triton, as Virgin is a preferred supplier of the super-consortium.
Travelzest buys naturist tour operator Peng Travel for £1.76 million.
Former chairman and MD of Panorama Holiday Group Justin Fleming replaces Martin Wellings as ABTA president.
BWIA UK and Europe director of sales and marketing Peter Irland dies.
Former Travelworld and Going Places managing director Terry Fisher joins Gold Medal Travel as MD.
England striker Wayne Rooney’s broken metatarsal causes concern on the eve of the FIFA World Cup. But travel companies secretly hope an early England exit will boost flagging sales. Summer sales are slow and operators slash prices.
Just Go, which has branches in Wales and the northwest, becomes First Choice’s first franchise.
Harvey World Travel buys Lets Go Travel’s 34 southwest shops, giving it a UK presence of 63 outlets.
Galaxy Travel’s 23 East Anglian shops quit Triton to join HWT. Galaxy managing director Geoff Blagg resigns from the Advantage board and becomes head of sales south for HWT.
Speculation is rife of a First Choice takeover of MyTravel for £2.5 million.
ABTA scraps plans to hold its November convention in Athens, in favour of Marbella. Meanwhile, ABTA and the CAA clash in the Court of Appeal, as the CAA appeals against the High Court’s January ruling on package holidays.
Bird flu in Turkey leads Thomson to reduce capacity by a fifth, while Thomas Cook cuts 100,000 seats.
TUI UK sales and marketing director Miles Morgan and Thomsonfly managing director Maurice Boyle leave in a management shakeup.
John Wimbleton becomes MD of First Choice’s activity holidays sector
Former STA Travel UK managing director Litsa Constantinou joins Inghams Travel as chief executive.
England underachieve in the World Cup, but a heatwave on the eve of the school holiday season means people have still not been motivated to book, prompting fears of an imminent price war.
Cendant announces it will sell off its Travelport division, which includes major travel brands Galileo, Travel 2/4, Octopus Travel, Gullivers Travel and Ebookers.
Octopus Travel global MD Daniella Wagner leaves, as does Travel 2/4 director of sales David Holland, who joins Gold Medal Travel.
Tour operators to the Middle East keep a watching brief on the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.
Over 400 employees of Panorama and Manos Holidays, in Portslade, Brighton and Glasgow-based Direct Holidays begin a 90-day consultation as MyTravel announces it plans to move operations to Airtours Holidays’ Rochdale head office.
Willie Stewart buys out ATM Travel from fellow Scottish agent Jamie Moffat. It’s full circle for Stewart – he used to work for Moffat’s father at the agency.
Majestic Travel owner Steven Freudmann becomes the first chairman of Advantage.
Argo Holidays group long haul MD Chris May leaves after two and a half years.
Rising interest rates, high inflation, increase in personal debts and a long, hot summer lead to the worst summer package-holiday trading conditions in 30 years. It’s a depressing picture – around one million trips are left unsold.
Tapestry Holidays goes under, and MD Nick Wrightman describes how he broke down when he had to tell staff they had lost their jobs.
August 11 sees chaos at UK airports when the Government claims it has foiled terrorist attacks on transatlantic flights. There are severe delays at check-in and passengers are initially banned from taking any hand luggage on board flights.
Mundi Color launches a specialist Italy programme, following Thomson’s decision to axe its Magic of Italy brand, while TUI UK MD Peter Rothwell gets on his bike during a ‘green day’ at the Luton head office.
Agents await guidance from Revenue and Customs and ABTA over whether they should pay VAT on their profit margin through the Tour Operators’ Margin Scheme.
Swimming is banned on the Spanish Costas because of the huge number of jellyfish spotted in the area.
The month starts off badly with operators slashing capacity to Turkey after late August bank holiday bomb attacks in Marmaris, Antalya and Istanbul leave three dead and 50 injured.
Accommodation-only companies Open Holidays, based in Worthing, and Dedicated Holidays Group in Crawley, go under in the first week of September. Seven days later, Waltham Cross-based agency Holiday Index ceases trading.
British Airways says it is losing bookings from outside the UK because of restrictions on hand luggage at UK airports and claims August’s terror alert cost it £40m in lost revenue and the cost of dealing with disrupted passengers.
Thomson faces a union boycott as it announces the loss of 450 jobs at its call centre, in Cardonald, Glasgow and First Choice embarks on a 90-day consultation with 150 back office staff about potential changes scheduled for the New Year.
BWIA, which has been losing areported $1 million a week, gets a cash injection from the Trinidad and Tobago government and announces it will begin afresh as a start-up carrier, Caribbean Airlines in early 2007.
ABTA and Travel Weekly unite to develop a green strategy for the industry, backed by high flyers such as Sir Richard Branson.
Libra Holidays sales and marketing director Paul Riches joins Internet start-up Youtravel.com.
ABTA once again celebrates victory as the Court of Appeal dismisses the CAA’s case against January’s judicial decision on what constitutes a package holiday.
ABTA seizes on comments made by Lord Justice Hardwick who says the CAA’s guidance notes were “misleading or potentially misleading.”
BA commercial director Martin George and head of communications Iain Burns resign. They had been on leave since June amid an OFT investigation into suggestions BA staff had discussed fuel surcharges with a rival.
Harvey World Travel’s parent company S8 sets up a UK division andappoints ex-Travelbag MD Andrew Laurie as chief executive. Midconsort Elite chief executive Charles Eftichiou joins HWT, overseeing its independent members division.
Kuoni buys Journeys of Distinction, Youtravel.com buys call centre business Qwerty Travel and Cosmos splits Somwhere2stay.com from its main operation.
Figures show a drop of up to 12% in 2006 summer holiday sales.
Hand luggage restrictions at UK airports change for the fourth time in two-and-a-half months as security measures are standardised across Europe. Toiletries are allowed under strict limits.
Two hundred delegates at the Hays Travel conference in Cyprus are stranded when carrier Ajet is grounded by the Cypriot authorities. Agents who have dynamically packaged Ajet flights have to decide whether to rebook other carriers at their own expense, or tell clients they are on their own.
Industry leaders consult lawyers and start talks with the CAA after it makes public its interpretation of the Court of Appeal’s ruling on ATOL requirements. Not surprisingly, the CAA’s interpretation casts fresh doubt over the legality of dynamic packaging without an ATOL, and the industry remains confused.
MyTravel Group announces it will make a pre-tax profit of £40 million-£45 million this year – its first for five years – then astounds the industry by saying it wants to buy First Choice’s mainstream holiday business.
Kuoni agrees to buy specialist Kirker Holidays.
On the eve of the ABTA conference, president Justin Fleming calls for consolidation of industry bodies into one powerful group.
Just as the trade looks forward to the end of the worst trading year onrecord, the Government deals a killer blow, announcing Air Passenger Duty will double in 2007.
British Airways withdraws three short-haul aircraft from service, and has to contact passengers who have recently been onboard, after tests showed low traces of radioactive material. The tests formed part of the inquiry into the death of Russian Alexander Litvinenko.
The trade gears up for one of the toughest January peak selling periods, with agents and operators planning to hike up their spend on New Year campaigns.
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