Jet2holidays anticipates 2022 capacity will outstrip 2019 as it remains confident about a strong rebound for the industry.
The operator confirmed an increase in the size of its Atol licence last year, despite the onset of Covid. It is now licensed to carry 4.8 million passengers a year, making it second in size in the UK to Tui.
Speaking exclusively on a Travel Weekly webcast, chief executive Steve Heapy said: “Capacity for 2021, on what we originally planned, is quite significantly down, by over 20%. But we will bounce back in summer 2022.”
Asked if capacity would be back to 2019 levels in 2022, Heapy said: “Yeah, probably above that. We are optimistic about the future.”
“We hope 2022 is the bounce-back year for both ourselves and the industry. I think lots of people will want to get away. They will feel they are owed a holiday. People have been locked down for nearly a year, and there’s a talk of there being a tsunami of mental health issues as a consequence, but what better way to solve that, than to go on holiday?”
He said early indications showed that consumers seemed to be trading up a bit for next summer.
“Summer 2022 seems to be a ‘sod it, let’s push the boat out’ year. People are perhaps treating themselves to a better board basis, or a better star rating,” he said.
“There might be an element of that for summer 2021, but I get the feeling for summer 2021, people just want to get away. They think they’re owed a holiday. I’ve not been away for 18 months, a lot of people haven’t been away for that length of time and they just want to get away.”
He said bookings to all destinations in the days since Boris’ roadmap announcement had shown “massive increases on previous periods”. The operator reported a 1,000% spike in the 24 hours after Johnson’s speech to parliament.
“Turkey was strong, Greece was strong, so was Cyprus and the Canary Islands. Those are probably the biggest ones. But everywhere was up – we’re seeing in increases across the board,” Heapy revealed.
But he warned there could be a shortage of holidays.
“Capacity is down in the market,” he said. “Maybe not all hotels will open and there might be social distancing in place. So I think it’s quite wise for people to try and book early because there might be some constraints on supply if this carries on. I’m bound to say that though, aren’t I?”
Heapy concluded: “There’s light at the end of the tunnel. I think the government has been a little bit hamstrung over what it can do with travel. In retrospect, communication could have been better and some of the decisions could have been more timely or different. But that’s hindsight. We all make mistakes. I make mistakes every day but we’re now on the roadmap. That’s what we asked for and that’s what we’ve got.
“I think the next three or four weeks will be telling but if [the reformed Global Travel Taskforce] comes up with some sensible proposals as to how we get back up and running, I think we might be able to salvage a decent half season out of this year,” he said.
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