Tui boss defends ash compensation bid

Tui Travel chief executive Peter Long has defended his decision to demand compensation from the government after last month’s ash crisis.

The closure of UK airspace for six days in April cost the company £90 million. Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, Long said: “We haven’t actually started negotiations yet. All travel companies have been determining cost.

“I’m sure we will do it on a joint basis and I hope we get some compensations not just from the UK but governments across Europe.”

When asked if it was appropriate for the government to compensate private companies, he added: “It is so unusual to have complete closure of airspace so I don’t think it’s an unreasonable request.”

Long said there had been “major issues” over the way the ash cloud was handled.

“I think the outcome is that we’ve got greater clarity in terms of no fly zones so we don’t get complete closure.”

Long pledged to continue to protect customers even if the ash cloud causes ongoing problems.

“We promise to look after our customers’ welfare and repatriation and whatever events happen we will continue to do that.”

Asked about the planned 20 days of British Airways strikes, he said: “Clearly it’s unfortunate in terms of any disruption to customers and we hope they will resolve it so doesn’t result in any concerns for customers.”

Tui Travel’s results for the six months ending March 31 2010 showed revenue was down 8% on the same period last year. The company lost £367 million before tax, which was 10% down on 2009.

The results do not include the £90million cost of last month’s ash crisis, when the operator was forced to cancel 175,000 holidays.

A statement said trading was strong until the ash disruption and cumulative booking volumes remained above the prior year in most source markets.

Demand has improved again in May, following a slowdown after the ash crisis, it said.

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