From operator failures to new product launches, the past 12 months have been full of highs and lows. This is TTG’s review of the year.
The year began ominously with Thomas Cook alienating an estimated 2,000 independent agents by ending online price parity, leaving many to switch to Jet2.
Credit insurer Euler Hermes later reduced the level of cover it offered to Cook’s third-party suppliers amid worries over its finances.
Operators and agents reported that Brexit, then scheduled for 29 March, was affecting the peak booking period, and the government warned about passport validity afterwards.
Tui said winning £19,000 in costs following a false sickness case was a “clear message” to fake claimants.
Cook revealed plans to sell its airline to raise cash. Virgin Voyages gave UK agents a tour of its first ship, Scarlet Lady.
Flybmi collapsed with 376 job losses, prompting calls for mandatory financial protection of all UK air ticket sales, while Airbus announced the end of A380 production in 2021.
IHG acquired Six Senses for $300 million and Flybe was sold to Virgin-backed Connect Airways for £2.8 million.
Cook hired Will Waggott to turn around its tour operation. Virgin Atlantic axed the requirement for female cabin crew to wear makeup.
The Boeing 737 Max was grounded after a second fatal crash. The first Brexit date came and went.
A lack of progress on Brexit and sterling’s weakness was blamed as Ski-Val collapsed amid the “worst trading environment since 2008”.
The Foreign Office warned against travel to Sri Lanka after Easter Sunday terrorist attacks killed more than 250 people.
The new 31 October Brexit deadline was agreed, with Jet2 warning of a summer of “consumer uncertainty” and Tui reducing European summer packages by £100.
Istanbul’s new airport opened, which will eventually handle 200 million passengers a year once completed by 2027.
Cook revealed a £1.45 billion first-half loss. Agents rushed to advise clients after Royal Caribbean pulled Independence of the Seas from the UK.
The Balearic Islands revealed its sustainability tax had raised €200 million in less than three years.
Cuba specialist The Holiday Place fell into administration.
The FCO green-lit travel to Sri Lanka. British Airways returned to Pakistan after a decade’s absence.
TTG co-founder Ted Kirkham sadly died, aged 100. Midcounties Co-op’s Alistair Rowland became Abta chairman.
President Trump banned US-based cruise ships from visiting Cuba.
Club Med owner Fosun revealed a £750 million rescue package for Cook, which did not come to fruition.
Post Office Travel Money found summer’s cheapest European family destination was Sunny Beach in Bulgaria.
The final (maybe) Travel Trade Crusade raised more than £46,000 for charity.
Super Break stunned the trade by collapsing with 20,000 forward bookings. Despite this, business advisory firm RSM said travel remained attractive to outside investors.
Norwegian continued its quest to return to profit by axing Ireland-US services.
Thomas Cook shocked the nation when it collapsed after 178 years in operation after last-ditch talks failed.
This prompted the government to mount a huge repatriation effort.
Hurricane Dorian devastated parts of the Bahamas. Voyages to Antiquity ceased operations. Norwegian was granted a delay to its £305 million debt repayments.
Caribtours marked its 40th anniversary. Baldwins Travel’s Pat Theophanides, 78, retired after 46 years in the industry.
Hays Travel was lauded for buying all 555 former Cook shops and Barrhead Travel promised 100 new stores. Former Cook bosses defended their decisions while at the helm during a public inquiry.
Former Cook cabin crew Rachel Murrell walked 200 miles to Downing Street. Tui promised two million extra seats on sale, while the FCO lifted advice against travel to Sharm el Sheikh airport.
The Caribbean Tourism Organization revealed the closure of its UK office in January 2020.
A second Brexit deadline passed.
EasyJet Holidays relaunched and dnata confirmed a regional charter programme, while Tui replaced former Cook capacity in Gambia and Cuba.
Jet2holidays unveiled youth brand Vibe. British Airways’ new head of global sales Mark Muren admitted it had “work to do” with agents, while airlines began taking action over “flight shame”.
Holidaysplease took on its 100th homeworker. Eurostar marked 25 years, while Elegant Resorts’ owner Portman Travel Group acquired If Only; and Wowcher bought Super Break from administrators.
Richard Branson backtracked on plans to sell 31% of Virgin Atlantic to Air France- KLM by retaining a controlling 51% share.
Abercrombie & Kent bought Cox & Kings UK out of administration and pledged to grow the business.
A general election saw the Conservatives sweep to a landslide victory.