The fact that something works is usually not news. When it comes to flying, however, things are different these days. And so what the head of Germany’s largest travel group Tui, Stefan Baumert, says is remarkable: “We are not canceling any flights,” emphasizes the company’s Germany boss. “Tuifly is stable”.
Nevertheless, Tui customers are not protected from nasty surprises either. Because the tour operator cannot handle all flights with its own machines, on some routes other carriers are used, such as the Lufthansa Group. And there are currently piling up flight cancellations. CEO Carsten Spohr expects that normality will not return until winter. In a letter to customers, Spohr warns that the situation, which is characterized by staff shortages, a shortage of parts and restricted airspace, will “hardly improve in the short term”. The industry is planning several thousand new hires in Europe alone. “However, this increase in capacity will only have a stabilizing effect in the coming winter.” In view of a sharp increase in ticket demand, Lufthansa is putting its giant Airbus A380 jets back into operation. The world’s largest passenger aircraft is expected to be used again from summer 2023.
To ensure that passengers catch their flight, airlines and airport companies recommend that you be at the airport four hours before departure. Baumert thinks that’s nonsensical. 2.5 hours is enough, says the travel manager. “If you fly at six in the morning, the check-in counter isn’t even open at two in the morning”. In order to speed up the process, travelers should also check in their hand luggage and have their documents ready.
To help customers who are stranded at the airport, Tui has set up a service hotline that helps with rebooking and other problems. In addition, the Group has more than doubled the number of tour guides in the holiday regions. A number shows the level of uncertainty among travelers: the hotline received 2,000 calls a day last weekend – the start of the holiday season in North Rhine-Westphalia. In view of the chaos at Düsseldorf and Cologne/Bonn airports, travelers wanted to know when they had to be at the airport in order to get on safely.
Nevertheless, the Germans do not want to be taken away from their desire to travel. “We’re getting close to summer 2019,” says Baumert, pleased with the good booking figures. Mallorca is in the lead again this summer, but Turkey and Greece are showing the biggest increases. Russians and Ukrainians are usually among the largest groups of tourists in Turkey, because of the war you have to adjust. Tour operators from other countries have therefore received good conditions.
In general, package holidaymakers are currently benefiting from the fact that hotel and flight prices for this summer were already negotiated last year. The higher energy prices and other price increases have therefore not affected them so far. The situation is different if contingents are now bought later. “Last-minute trips can be up to ten percent more expensive,” warns Baumert.
However, Baumert believes that the rising cost of living in Germany will also have an impact on business. He reckons that people will have to economize and maybe shorten their stay or compromise on the hotel’s star rating. But he doesn’t think that the Germans will do without them entirely: “I trust in the travel world champion”.
For the designated CEO Sebastian Ebel, there are therefore some challenges. In the fall, the CFO will replace CEO Fritz Joussen, who is ending his contract prematurely. According to the group, now that the existential crisis is over is a good time for the change.