Travel 2’s long-haul operator rivals were tipped to benefit following Dubai-based dnata’s acquisition of Stella Travel Services last week.
Dnata, the travel services division of Emirates Group, agreed to buy Stella, the parent of Travel 2, Global Travel Group, Travelbag and online retailer Sunmaster, for an undisclosed sum.
The deal came seven months after dnata bought Gold Medal from Thomas Cook for £45 million, and three years after it bought online agent Travel Republic.
Trade reaction was largely supportive, although there were questions about whether dnata would continue operating Glasgow-based Travel 2 and Preston-based Gold Medal as separate businesses.
Hays Travel managing director John Hays said: “It’s really good for the UK industry that a major outside investor has such faith. They must be pleased with their previous acquisitions.
“If I was a small agent I might be a little bit concerned, but we have our own in-house consolidator. Independent agents do need choice.”
Hays said the deal could present an opportunity for his Faraway long-haul operator, which is selling through 40 third-party agencies after a “gentle roll‑out” over the past three months.
“I have a lot of respect for what dnata has done; they’ve done a good job with Gold Medal,” said Hays. “But we will make an alternative product available and see how it stacks up.”
Miles Morgan, owner of Miles Morgan Travel, said dnata’s purchase, which is subject to EC approval, raised questions.
“Where do you go down to after them in terms of consolidators: JTA, The Holiday Team?” he asked. “They are probably seeing opportunities for a smaller guy to jump up.”
Alistair Rowland, group general manager for travel services at Midcounties Co-operative, said he did not expect dnata to merge Travel 2 and Gold Medal in the short term, adding: “You don’t just add one and one and immediately get two-and-a-half.
“Both companies are now telling us it’s business as usual.”
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