Tui to refund state Covid aid as bookings near pre-pandemic levels

Tui, the Anglo-German holiday company, will start paying back the more than €4 billion in state aid it received during the pandemic as summer bookings are on track to return to pre-pandemic levels.

The travel group said on Wednesday that on April 1 it would repay around 700 million euros in government-guaranteed loans, mainly from Germany’s state-owned investment bank, KfW, as it was “well positioned” for the post period. -Covid-19 and expects “stable business development” this year.

The refunds are the first indication that Tui’s exchanges are beginning to return to pre-pandemic levels after two years of battling volatile periods of lockdown, international border closures and costly testing requirements that deter customers from booking holidays.

Tui said that although winter vacation bookings are only 66% of 2019 levels due to the spread of the Omicron variant, summer vacation bookings were already 80% of those in 2019. and that they plan to return to normal this year.

Europe’s biggest tour operator was also boosted by a significant increase in prices, which rose by a fifth compared to 2019 thanks to the increase in the number of package holidays booked. The company previously reported that customers who accumulated savings during long periods of lockdown opted to upgrade to more luxurious hotels.

Countries across Europe have started to drop travel requirements introduced during the pandemic in recent weeks, such as lengthy forms and mandatory testing to boost the struggling travel industry ahead of the summer season.

Greece, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK are among the countries that eased travel restrictions this month.

Fritz Joussen, chief executive of Tui, said accepting state aid during the pandemic was “important and right” because Covid-19 had “almost completely deprived” the holiday business of its operations. But he said Tui was “on the right track and trends [towards holiday bookings] are intact.

Tui’s liquidity amounts to 3.4 billion euros excluding the initial repayment of loans.

Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, the company has been challenged by the sanction of its main shareholder Alexei Mordashov, whose transfer of part of his stake in Tui to a holding company in the British Virgin Islands was the subject of disputes. an investigation by the German authorities.

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