The demise of Thomas Cook does not spell the death of the package holiday.
That was the message of Tui Airways northern region managing director Dawn Wilson, speaking on a CEO panel at the Airlines 2050 conference.
She said the failure of rival Thomas Cook “really hurt”. But she rejected the idea Cook’s collapse meant the package holiday was losing popularity with British consumers.
Wilson said: “I believe the whole model is still popular. We take six million customers on holiday every year from the UK and one of our competitors, Jet2, does something similar.”
Instead, she argued Cook’s failure was largely thanks to its inability to keep up with the times and the changing tastes of UK consumers.
She said customers no longer wanted regular meetings with reps, although they still wanted service at their fingertips digitally.
“We’ve changed our business over the past five or six years,” Wilson said. “We’re looking at diversifying what we do and we are looking at how we can digitalise those aspects.
“You have to be very fast-paced in this industry, as there are lots of people out there who want to take a share of what you do.”
Wilson also spoke of Tui’s keenness to get its Boeing 737 Maxs back in the air as soon as the aircraft model is deemed safe by global authorities following two deadly crashes.
The firm had received 15 of the aircraft from an order of 60 and warned in March their grounding could cost the airline as much as £258 million.
Wilson said: “The consumer will be confused at the beginning; we’ve got to work with the industry and the regulators to be clear about what has happened in the interim period and what has changed.”