TUI Travel yesterday released what an analyst described as a “real humdinger” of a trading statement for August and September as it took advantage of the collapse of some of its smaller rivals.
Europe’s largest travel firm said holiday bookings for winter and next summer were encouraging and said net debt should fall by more than it expected.
Chief executive Peter Long said holidaymakers were seeking the security of a major tour operator after the failure of a number of smaller operators and airlines earlier this year, claiming: “We have benefited from this flight to quality.”
British travel companies that have collapsed, leaving thousands of passengers stranded, include Kiss Flights, Goldtrail and Sun4U.
TUI said winter sales in the UK were up 17 per cent compared with the previous year, while summer 2011 booking volumes were up five per cent in the UK and up 18 per cent in the Nordic region, the two markets it currently has on sale.
The company said its summer 2010 programme, which runs to the end of October, was almost fully sold after a surge in late bookings.
After warning on profit in August, TUI Travel maintained guidance for the year. Analysts are predicting full-year profits for Tui of £269.5m on sales of £13.4bn.