Biblio Travel is targeting a wider portfolio from 2023, but said it was looking to establish itself first in 2022 – a year it warned could be characterised by “under-capacity and huge demand”.
The operator will begin operations to Cyprus next month from Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham and said it wanted to “make sure we do the right analytics on the market capacities and demand” before expanding its destination offering and list of departure airports.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, managing director Clare Tobin said: “I think 2022 is going to be very interesting for the whole market. There’s going to be under capacity and huge demand, I think that’s what we’re all expecting so we need to see where we end up at the end of it.
“We’re going to be quite flexible. We’ve got quite a flexible programme – we can expand on our flying with Condor, which is German airline with fantastic new aircraft with which we have a great relationship. There is scope for both sides to spot where the opportunities are.”
She added: “At the moment, we’re doing Manchester, Birmingham and Gatwick – that’s for this year. We will be looking to expand to some other airports going forward, but not next year. We would like to expand from 2023 onwards. We want to make sure that everything’s right for expansion and agents understand that.”
Tobin said Cyprus was a “good starting point” from which to grow the business in time.
“Cyprus has been a passion of mine for many years. I was a buyer there for First Choice so have worked with the Cypriots for years and they are very close to my heart,” she said. “They’ve been fully supportive of us entering this market.
“We are looking to expand once we get through 2022 and into 2023, to look at some new destinations, but Cyprus is a good starting point.”.
Tobin, who was previously chief executive of Olympic Holidays, said there was a gap in the market after the demise of Thomas Cook in 2019.
“Thomas Cook was carrying over 100,000 passengers to Cyprus and [after its failure], Biblio saw there were only a few players now doing the package side. So we thought entering into the market and hitting Cyprus was a very good place to start.
“[Biblio’s] parent company also already carries half a million passengers to Cyprus from Russia, Bulgaria and various other Eastern European markets, so it is looking at new entry into different markets all the time. It gives us a good opportunity to enter into a market where we’re well known from the other source markets already.”
Tobin believes there is huge pent up demand in the UK, which will be realised in 2022, and said Cypriots were keen to welcome British holidaymakers back.
“They enjoy the UK market. They have a big Russian market, they also have a big market from Germany. The Germans and Russians have managed to make their way to Cyprus this year and therefore you will see that the majority of Cyprus is open, which is fantastic,” she said.
“[Future UK customers] will know they’re going to a resort that is open, and people are enjoying it.”
She added: “You’re constantly seeing new product developing there and we’re working very closely with those key suppliers to ensure we have the best product there from two to five star. We cover everything.”