A 20% drop in short haul passengers has been entirely responsible for TUI Travel seeing its overall number of passengers fall by 9%.


Speaking as he released the interim management statement and results for the third quarter and nine months ending June 30, chief executive Peter Long said both medium haul and long haul had seen an increase in passenger numbers, by 1% and 5% respectively.


Despite the fall in passenger numbers, overall sales are 5% ahead of where they were this time last year, while capacity cuts have totalled 13%. The group’s UK summer programme is 84% sold.


Long said the medium haul growth was driven by the popularity of Greece, Turkey and Egypt while selling prices have also held up. The summer 2008 average selling price is now 15% ahead of this time last year while in the last six weeks this has risen to 20%.


Winter 2008/09 is looking equally positive with sales 2% up on last year while the average selling price is 13% up, largely thanks to the short-haul market where the average selling price is 26% up.


Further capacity cuts have seen a 37% reduction in short haul, a 15% cut in medium haul and a decrease of 12% in long haul. The combined cuts mean overall capacity is down 21%.


Long added the summer 2009 programme is 7% sold, putting it in line with last year, while average selling prices for charter holidays excluding scheduled flying are 12% ahead of this time last year.