TUI (TUI.L) anticipates that summer holiday bookings this year will be close to pre-pandemic travel levels.
Europe’s biggest holiday tour operator warned in December last year that the Omicron variant was shrinking bookings, but struck a more upbeat tone in its trading update announcing company losses narrowed in the fourth quarter.
The Anlo-German company said on Tuesday that demand for holidays and and prices rose over a fifth.
The end of travel measures for vaccinated people in the UK prompted an uptick in booking activity, with with summer holiday reservation rising 19% compared to the same period in 2019.
It reported that as of 30 January a total of 3.5 million TUI customers had booked a trip for summer 2022 — this is around 72% of the levels seen during the same period in 2019. TUI added that new bookings were helping group sales recover to 100 % of 2019 levels.
Travelers are also booking “higher quality” vacation with bigger budgets this summer, a company statement said.
“We expect a strong summer 2022,” said chief executive Fritz Joussen. “The path out of the pandemic is becoming increasingly clear. Demand for travel is high across all markets.”
Shares in the company were down 3.5% on Tuesday morning around 9:30AM in London.
The group, which operates airlines, hotels, cruises and travel agencies, has struggled since pandemic-related measures hammered the global tourism industry.
The forecast comes after TUI reported reported revenues of €2.3bn (£1.9bn, $2.6bn) in the fourth quarter of 2021. This was five times higher than in the same time period in 2020 but still a third below pre-COVID 2019 levels .
The Hanover-based group has been bailed out on many occasions by the German government and taken over €4bn in state loans and raised equity to ride out the crisis. TUI said it would return around €0.7bn of the state aid by April this year.
Losses before interest and tax dropped to €274m from €676m in the same period a year ago, and the company said that prices for its summer 2022 holidays were up 22% thanks to stronger demand for package holidays and more luxurious hotels.
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