Some return to travel this summer is “inevitable”, On the Beach has said, but warned of continuing restrictions once destinations reopen.
On the Beach is not selling any holidays for departure until 1 September. Speaking as interim results were released, chief executive Simon Cooper said he did not anticipate the return of widespread travel in July and August.
“It depends on the information flow between now and then. Unless we were to see something that means customers could book, it is very difficult to put stuff on sale. We don’t know, nor does Boris. They are trying to manage priorities, not just the sustained recovery of the travel industry.
“It’s probably not got that much worse since January and February. Where things are in four weeks’ time, your guess is as good as mine. All we can do is plan for all scenarios. Inevitably there will be some travel. Will it be unrestricted? Probably not.”
He added: “It feels like we are constantly adjusting the end point of our expectations. Here we are, still operating in a zero revenue environment.”
Cooper said that even if UK Covid rates remained low, the situation in Europe also had to be taken into consideration.
“The flow of passenger traffic affects the contagion rate. We would rather see a sustained return. Most of Europe is 20-25% second vaccinated. It just feels like it’s too early.”
On the Beach reported more demand and more bookings for 2022 “than we would normally have seen” but added “volumes are still small”.
On the Beach’s trade brands, Classic Collection Holidays and Classic Package Holidays were “continuing to support agents and assist with rebooking,” he said.
“Hopefully the two brands emerge with their reputations intact. We trust agents will continue to sell responsibly.”
On the Beach is owed £11.8 million from airlines in cancelled bookings, a big fall from the £34.3 million owed in September.
“We are refunding within 14 days of cancellation, but airline refunds are coming through very slowly,” said Cooper.
He added the situation was ongoing despite the monies recovered in the past six months. “As quickly as we recovered that, more appeared.”