Simon Calder, also known as The Man Who Pays His Way, has been writing about travel for The Independent since 1994. In his weekly opinion column, he explores a travel issue. important – and what it means to you.
New horizons from your local airport – that’s Tui’s big deal for 2024. Destination screens at the UK’s relatively small and dull airports will see some exotic destinations in next summer. Try East Midlands to Sal in Cape Verde; or Teesside to Dalaman in Türkiye; perhaps from Bournemouth to Enfidha in Tunisia.
These new routes are just three of dozens of new and restored routes that Tui will operate from May to October next year as part of its biggest summer program ever. . The holiday company will add 1.1 million flight seats – up 12% this year and 13% in the pre-pandemic summer, 2019.
Tui is addressing travelers’ desires for accessibility and flexibility. People appreciate flying from their local airport and this expansion will fill the destination gap in smaller locations like Cardiff. The increased frequency means holidaymakers looking to cut their budget can go abroad for 10 or 11 nights instead of two weeks. Conversely, some passengers may want to save every moment on their sunshine investment, taking the trip eight or nine nights instead of just a week.
The wider visibility caters to British travelers well and the increased seating supply means that the price pressures many holidaymakers are experiencing this summer could ease.
However, I believe there is something else going on: a war for territory with a company that didn’t even exist 21 years ago.
I’m definitely the biggest resort company in Europe. But this year it lost its UK crown to Jet2 Holidays.
Jet2 Holidays is allowed to transport 5.86 million package travelers in a year, almost 10% more than Tui UK.
When these Civil Aviation Authority figures were revealed in February, Tui’s chief executive, Sebastian Ebel, said: “We have not benefited as much as Jet2 from the disappearance of Thomas Cook. “
That vacation company, originally founded by a Methodist preacher in 1841, collapsed in September 2019. Jet2 has clearly attracted many customers looking for a new vacation home.
A Tui spokesperson emphasized at the time: “The Atol numbers are updated based on projections for next year.” But Mr. Ebel was more blunt. “We are taking on this challenge and want to grow stronger than our dear competitor,” he said.
And here’s the response: more planes at Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, Manchester and Newcastle, plus two new planes at Glasgow.
Add a quarter of a million seats for Spain and Türkiye, and another 300,000 for North Africa. Those numbers should alarm my no-flight colleague, travel editor Helen Coffey; they were also designed to cause dismay at Jet2 Holidays HQ in Leeds. Those additional Boeings will primarily go to airports already served by Jet2.
But Jet2 boss Steve Heapy insists he is sticking to the principles that have brought his company to the forefront since its launch in 2003.
“Becoming the UK’s largest tour operator is an important milestone in the history of Jet2 Holidays, but it won’t change anything we do.
“Our continued success is due to the fact that we have the best team in the industry who work tirelessly to take care of our customers, and we will never lose sight of that fundamental principle.”
The battles for market share are a lot like the 20th century. In the 1990s, the big four tour operators – Thomson, First Choice, Airtours and Thomas Cook – fought fiercely for the bigger piece of the pie then. . For tourists who like to bargain, it is the best time.
But once low-cost carriers easyJet and Ryanair achieved significant scale, the all-inclusive market shrank. Airtours and Thomas Cook got together (and have since disappeared), quickly followed by First Choice and Thomson (now Tui).
Package holidays are still the travel product of choice, because they come with a lot of consumer protection: essentially, the company is responsible for every aspect of the trip as promised. If the price is more attractive, the traditional tour operator model could develop again. At that point, easyJet Holidays, the all-inclusive subsidiary of Britain’s largest low-cost airline, is sure to respond. The summer of 2024 already looks intriguing.