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Airlines and travel companies have reported a surge in holiday bookings after the Boris Johnson announced his roadmap out of lockdown.
EasyJet, Ryanair, Tui and Thomas Cook reported a jump in bookings to destinations including Spain and Greece after the prime minister said international trips could potentially resume from 17 May, subject to review and assuming there was no resurgence in coronavirus and vaccination programmes went well.
The increase bolstered shares in airlines and travel companies on Tuesday. EasyJet and Tui were among the top risers on the FTSE 250, up 7% and 3% respectively. On the FTSE 100, British Airways’ owner International Airlines Group, was up 3.5%.
EasyJet said flight bookings from the UK jumped 337% and package holiday bookings surged 630% compared with a week earlier, with Málaga, Alicante and Palma in Spain, Faro in Portugal and the Greek island of Crete among the top destinations. August breaks are the most popular, followed by July and September.
Johan Lundgren, the easyJet chief executive, said: “We have consistently seen that there is pent-up demand for travel and this surge in bookings shows the signal from the government that it plans to reopen travel has been what UK consumers have been waiting for.”
Tui, Ryanair, Thomas Cook and Jet2holidays also reported a sharp rise in demand. Tui, the world’s largest travel company, said breaks in Greece, Spain and Turkey from July onwards were the most booked overnight, with bookings up 500%.
Ryanair, Europe’s biggest airline, said there had been a “large surge” in bookings from the UK to holiday destinations in Spain, Greece and Italy since the government’s announcement. “This is an encouraging trend and shows the importance of providing customer confidence,” a spokesperson said.
As part of the government’s planned easing of Covid-19 restrictions, Boris Johnson said a travel taskforce would set out plans on 12 April on the return to international travel “so people can plan for the summer”. The ban on international travel will not be lifted until 17 May at the earliest, however, which means Easter breaks are off the table.
Andrew Flintham, the managing director of Tui UK and Ireland, said: “The announcement from the prime minister was positive and shows that by working with the travel industry on a risk-based framework our customers will have the opportunity to travel abroad this summer. We will continue to work closely with the government so people can look forward to a well-deserved break away, after what has been a very difficult year for many.”
Thomas Cook said website traffic was up by 75% on Monday and bookings tripled from the day before. Turkey was the No 1 destination followed by Greece and Cyprus, but people also booked long-haul breaks to Dominican Republic and Mexico. The company said customers were also booking well into 2022. “It felt like the cork had popped on all that pent-up demand for holidays,” a spokesperson said.
The tour operator Jet2holidays and the Jet2 carrier said summer bookings had leapt 600% since Monday afternoon, compared with this time last week, to mainland Spain and its islands, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey.
There was a noticeable increase in bookings from July through the rest of the school holidays. The Golf Travel Centre, a golf holiday booking website, said it had seen a spike in requests for European golf holidays in June and July.
The Thomas Cook chief executive, Alan French, said: “The government’s announcement is good news for those of us desperate to get away on holiday. While we await more details, it’s clear that the government’s ambition is to open up international travel in the coming months and hopefully in time for the summer holidays.”
Domestic travel has also received a boost. Data from the hotel technology provider Avvio showed a further 38% rise in the value of summer bookings at UK hotels and self-catering accommodation since the announcement, compared with the previous day. It said the high-end UK staycation market was booming, with August revenue for 4- and 5-star hotels up 350% from last year.
The Avvio chief commercial officer, Michael De Jongh, said: “We have all had a tough year and people are desperate to get away this summer. Many consumers feel it is too risky to book a foreign holiday, so they are using the money they would have spent going abroad to treat themselves to an incredible stay at a 4- or 5-star hotel in the UK instead. It may well be the first time many of them have stayed in such a high-end hotel.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Holiday bookings surge in UK after lockdown exit plans revealed | Travel & leisure