Tui chief Fritz Joussen has reiterated his and the holiday giant’s belief it will yet be a "decent summer", despite the challenges posed by the ongoing Covid crisis.
Speaking to the BBC’s Talking Business on Friday (16 April), Joussen said he and Tui were confident vaccination programmes across many of Tui’s source markets would prevent some of the chaos of last summer.
Joussen said the company was preparing for additional testing and vaccination checks at borders, and stressed it was vital the cost of testing was further reduced.
He added testing could prove as effective as vaccination in preventing further spread of the virus, but only if it was affordable.
It echoes comments made by Tui Group purchasing director Helen Caron who on Thursday (15 April) told a virtual conference hosted by the Cyprus Hotel Managers Association destinations must focus on reducing testing costs.
She said it was unlikely holidaymakers would be able to "bear the cost" of having to take multiple Covid tests to go on holiday.
Boris Johnson has intimated the government is prepared to look at cheaper testing options for the single test that will be required for arrivals from "green list" countries under the UK government’s new traffic light system.
Aviation and maritime minister Robert Courts, addressing the government’s transport committee on Wednesday (14 April), said there were several ways in which the government could cut the cost of testing.
However, he would not be drawn on the prospect of allowing arrivals to take a quicker, cheaper antigen or lateral flow test upon their return, and upgrade this to a gold standard PCR test if the initial test came back positive.
Joussen said Tui had taken 2.8 million bookings in March for the summer. "The important season is, of course, June onwards. Our profitability is in the quarter commencing in July.
"With the vaccination levels, particularly in the UK but also in the US and hopefully now Europe as well, we are still confident we will have a decent summer. Will it be 80% [capacity]? Maybe not, we have scheduled right now to something like 70-75% from July onwards. That would still be good."
On vaccination passes or certification, Joussen said it was likely they would play an important role from a destination point of view.
"It’s not very uncommon that you have countries with vaccination entry control for malaria and other diseases.
"So to control vaccination, [I think] it is something that will happen. And also I think as long as you don’t have a full vaccination [of a population], I think a negative test might be similarly qualified as a vaccination when you enter a certain country."
Joussen added he was confident Europe’s vaccination programme would ramp up over the coming months to the point where supply overtakes demand. "From then on, it is important that people acknowledge the necessity of vaccination – and that’s a very different game."