Tui Group’s UK division has recorded “its best bookings volume month in the company’s history” after Thomas Cook’s collapse prompted an exceptional January.
Group chief executive Fritz Joussen declined to give specific January figures, but said the group’s overall summer bookings were “now 14% up, so it must be at least 14%, at prices that are 3% higher”.
Joussen said Tui Group was now 36% sold for summer 2020, with revenue up 17%. “I can’t remember any January or start to the year when that has happened,” he said.
Thomas Cook’s collapse last September prompted Tui Group to add 21 aircraft to its fleet in an attempt to grab market share, but Joussen said it was trading ahead of this capacity increase. “We expect the year to be strong,” he said.
Winter sales are up 3%, with selling prices up an average 6%, he said.
However, he said the overall market, particularly in the UK and Germany, appeared to be shrinking. “There are fewer clients, maybe we will see the bookings later; maybe the lates business will be even stronger than the early business.”
He said adding the 21 aircraft and the bulk of former Thomas Cook hotels in Turkey was a sign of Tui’s confidence. “I would be astonished or surprised if those 21 were not sustainable, because we started to consolidate the market by contracting Thomas Cook hotels.”
Expansion, particularly in Turkey, where there is no sizeable winter market, plus the continued grounding of the Boeing 737 Max, increased Tui Group’s first-quarter losses from €83 million to €147 million.