Tui’s new UK boss has hinted the operator is likely to boost its Tunisia programme – though it’s unlikely to be this year.
Speaking to TTG at the ITT Conference in Sicily, Andrew Flintham said: “We are seeing demand increasing [for Tunisia]. Even when we weren’t flying there we had people asking when it would be coming back on sale.
“There’s a real warmth there for Tunisia. We’ll continue to increase the programme - it won’t be this summer but it will certainly be at some point.”
Flintham said another destination likely to see a boost in capacity was Turkey, which he said he been “one of our strongest performers” in 2018. “I can see us growing bookings into the numbers we had there historically. I think we will see any increase in capacity for future seasons”.
However he was less optimistic about Sharm el Sheikh, stating that he had not heard any noise from the UK government on whether it would start allowing UK flights to the Red Sea airport again.
“We’ve not heard anything on Sharm, but we’ll be waiting when it does re-open,” he added.
Asked whether Tui had plans to boost its presence in any long-haul destinations, Flintham replied: “It will link to where we are acquiring hotels such as Vietnam for example – I could see growth in that part of the world. And if there was a good proposition for growth in Thailand for the UK market then we could see expansion there.”
Elsewhere Flintham admitted his time away from the business while he was initially preparing to join Thomas Cook as managing director before he switched role and returned to Tui, had given him a chance to view the business objectively.
“I almost ended up appraising the business as a competitor, because that’s what I was going to be, and it gave me a really interesting view of it.
“I realised that we’ve got the best commercial capability in the industry, but we need to shout more loudly about how good our people are and the amazing things we do for our customers,” he said.
Flintham also revealed the business was open to acquisitions, but insisted it had to be more than just “buying a brand”.
“We are a big group. We make a number of acquisitions and investments and we buy huge amounts of hotels. We are open to looking at all kinds of investments, but if an opportunity came about in the UK we wouldn’t buy something for brand’s sake,” he said. “We buy content; a service we could own.”