Staycations take their toll on TUI

EUROPE’S largest tourism group, German owned TUI reported a drop in its nine-month financial year earnings but claimed the fall was just a blip before recovery.

Underlying profits ebbed down by 1.2 per cent compared to 2008, with operational turnover was hammered, reporting a -13.8 per cent decline to €13.1bn (£11.8bn) after customers deserted overseas holidays.

However, the group’s relatively stable performance was boosted by the €1.1bn sale of its majority holding of the Hapag-Lloyd container shipping business to a group of Hamburg-based investors. This helped balance losses at the groups main division, TUI Travel, which cut flights after waning demand.

Analyst Martina Noss at Norddeutsche Landesbank in Hanover said: “The only reason for the positive result is the benefit from the Hapag-Lloyd disposal.”

Yet TUI chief executive Michael Frenzel was positive about the group’s near future prospects. “Even if 2010 will continue to be impacted by the global economic crisis, we expect operating earnings in our core business to post a stable performance,” he said.

TUI’s sales and earnings in the next financial year, Frenzel said, are expected to climb “provided the economy picks up again”.