Tui Group chief executive Fritz Joussen has insisted that capacity from UK will not be permanently affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
The tour operator’s latest financial results showed the UK was lagging behind other key European source markets, particularly Germany, for summer 2021 holidays.
But Joussen did not think this would mark a permanent reduction in capacity from the UK. He blamed the lack of “predictability” created by the UK government’s traffic light system and high cost of PCR tests for the sluggish British market this summer.
“I don’t think it will affect future capacity,” said Joussen, as Tui unveiled its third quarter results. “I think long-term we will see good booking trends.
“The difference between the UK and other countries is a little bit of the uncertainty. We have had Portugal on the green list and Portugal off the green list, so the predictability of decisions I think was not very high. Customers did not know what to do.”
Joussen highlighted how UK capacity in July was 144,000 seats compared with 280,000 seats from the German market during the month.
“The UK is smaller than Germany in terms of capacity – usually it’s at least as big as Germany and even a little bit bigger,” he added.
But Joussen also emphasised how UK bookings had improved in the past few weeks as there had been “better predictability” in the way the government was managing the traffic light system.
He also questioned the policy of people travelling back from the key amber destinations of Spain and Greece being required to take a PCR test even if they have been fully vaccinated.
“The average cost of a test is maybe £60 – then you have to do two tests so that’s £120. When you have to multiply that by four for a family then it’s £400 to £500,” said Joussen. “We subsidise [the tests] to a certain degree in the UK but of course it’s adding to the cost.”
Joussen said Tui’s sales were “already piling up nicely” for 2022 with 1.2 million bookings with prices also higher than 2019 levels.
He added that this did not necessarily mean that holidays were more expensive for next year as customers were booking longer trips and upgrading their accommodation to make up for holidays they missed out on during the pandemic.