he outbreak of war in Ukraine has not dulled Brits’ appetite for travel, the world’s biggest travel agent said today, with bookings now running ahead of pre-pandemic levels.
German holiday giant Tui today predicted a return to profit “after two years of turbulence” thanks to soaring bookings in markets like the UK.
11 million trips and excursions were booked through Tui in the six months to the end of March, including 5 million bookings in the second half of the period.
“The UK market in particular remains the most advanced booked, with bookings up 11% versus Summer 2019,” the company said.
“Bookings across our key markets UK, Germany and Benelux have been largely unaffected by the war in Ukraine, with only the Nordics and Poland subdued.”
Higher prices — prompted by rising fuel costs and inflation — are yet to clip demand.
Tui said it was “confident Summer 2022 will be close to Summer 2019 levels” across its business in the clearest sign yet that the travel industry is getting back on its feet.
The German company is one of the world’s largest tourism businesses, operating airlines, hotels, cruises and travel agencies.
Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said: “Today’s update indicates that bookings are moving in a positive trajectory and holidaymakers are yet to be dissuaded by the 20% jump in peak season average selling prices versus 2019.”
Wizz Air and Ryanair both recently reported booming demand for flights and on Tuesday Heathrow raised its forecasts for total passengers set to pass through its terminals this year.
While Tui is on the road to recovery, it is still loss making for now. The company lost €329.9 million in the six months to March 31, though that was almost half the loss it made in the same period a year earlier. Tui said it “generated a significantly positive operating cash flow” in the final three months of the period.
Like most tourism businesses, Tui was battered by pandemic shutdowns which forced it to slash costs and seek a bailout from the German government.
The company said a €400 million cost-cutting plan launched in May 2020 was on track to be completed next year.
Tui said it would “emerge stronger, leaner, more digitalised and more agile, and ready to exploit market recovery and growth opportunities.”
Shares rose 5.18p to 222.28p.