Tui cuts summer holiday capacity as fears over third coronavirus wave grow

Travel company Tui has cut its summer holiday schedules amid new coronavirus restrictions in Europe.

The Anglo-German firm announced it is offering 75% of its pre-pandemic capacity in the peak travel months starting from July, down from a planned 80%.

Some 2.8 million guests are booked on summer trips, down 60% compared with the same point in 2019.

But average prices are up 22%, due to a rise in the proportion of package tours being booked.

Fears of a third wave of Covid-19 are growing across Europe.

Germany and France have imposed fresh restrictions, while there is speculation that the UK could impose restrictions on people returning from much of the continent once leisure travel resumes.

Tui chief executive Fritz Joussen told the company’s annual general meeting it must “retain sufficient flexibility” to increase capacity “if our customers’ demand recovers more quickly when the travel restrictions are lifted”.

He said: “We continue to see a strong pent-up demand and desire to travel among our customers”.

Many UK-based travellers who booked trips due to begin before May 17, the earliest date for the resumption of foreign leisure travel for people in England, have rescheduled their holiday for a later date.

“We look to the coming seasons with optimism,” Mr Joussen said.

“We’re seeing strong demand for next summer in the UK with bookings up some 120%, and May 2022 in particular is already up by more than 150%.”

There will be a “strong summer business in tourism this year” if coronavirus rules are relaxed, Mr Joussen said.

“The prospects of this are at least good in the United Kingdom”, he added.

On Tuesday, Tui revealed it plans to close 48 more retail stores in the UK, stating that the travel industry and the high street “are both facing unprecedented pressure”.

This came after it announced in July 2020 that 166 shops closed due to the virus crisis would not reopen, which was nearly a third of its total.

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