Tui boss says UK vaccine campaign gives hope for return to travel

Tui says its summer season can benefit from the UK’s rapid Covid vaccination programme and it sees strong customer demand “despite major uncertainties”.

The comments came as the travel giant reported its Q1 results for the period of October 1 to December 31. It made a group underlying loss of €709 million, which “reflects our strong cost discipline and contribution from operational opportunities, helping to reduce average monthly underlying EBIT loss to ~€230m per month”.

Revenues fell 88% to €468 million in the three-month period because of the Covid-19 travel restrictions across Europe.

However, the company said it is “well prepared for 2021 holiday season” thanks to developing “successful safety and hygiene concepts”.

Fritz Joussen, chief executive, said: “The English market has a special significance for our company. We see an impressive pace and ambitious targets for vaccinations there.

“Vaccinations and rapid tests make an end to the standstill in tourism possible.

“I am hopeful that after a slow start, more energy is now being put on vaccination and the availability of rapid tests in other countries.”

The group has made 2.8 million bookings for summer 2021, about 56% of bookings at the same time for summer 2019, with average prices 20% higher than for summer 2019.

Capacity for the 2021 summer programme remains about 80% of the summer 2019 programme.

Joussen said: “With strict cost discipline and the realignment of the group, which is being driven forward at full speed, we succeeded in reducing the loss in the past quarter.

“Our teams in the travel agencies, tour operators and Tui’s hotel, airline and cruise companies are prepared for the new start in tourism in 2021.

“As expected, customers will book their summer holidays much later this year than in normal years.

“However, demand remains strong, people want to travel – this is shown by the already good number of bookings for the summer.

“A look at the historically high savings rate in the EU also underlines that the scope for consumer spending is high.

“The significant increase in spending on booked travel reflects this very clearly.

“Holidaymakers are catching up and are willing to pay more for their holidays.

“The market and customers are in the starting blocks, the demand is there. Everyone is waiting to earn their own income from the business again.”

He said vaccination campaigns will lead to the restoration of “basic freedoms in many areas of life in the coming months”.

The rapid rate of the British vaccination campaign “will have an immediate impact on the booking and travel behaviour of Britons for the summer of 2021”, he said.

“It also gives hope that the other European countries important to Tui will also be able to accelerate their vaccination strategies,” he added.

“In the transition period, rapid tests can play an important role, especially in tourism.

“With uniform and reliable regulations on rapid tests, we can leave quarantine obligations and closed borders behind us. Rapid testing instead of quarantine is a demand of the travel industry, to which Tui also adheres.”

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