Tui hails return to profit but warns of €25m hit from Rhodes wildfires

The package holiday operator Tui has enjoyed its first profitable April to June since before the pandemic but warned it expects to take a €25m hit from last month’s wildfires in Rhodes.

Tui said the total wildfire bill would come out of its full-year results, and included the price of cancelling holidays, compensating customers and covering their welfare expenses, as well as flying them home.

The tour operator reported underlying pre-tax profits of €169.4m (£146m) from April to June – its first profit for the key spring and early summer period since the start of the Covid crisis and almost €197m higher than the same quarter a year earlier.

It took 5.5 million people on holiday in those three months – 0.4 million more passengers, or a rise of 9% – and said current booking levels for sunshine getaways had met its expectations for a strong summer.

Despite the cost of living crisis, this almost marked a return to pre-pandemic booking levels, as Tui carried 95% as many passengers as in the same quarter in 2019.

In recent weeks, Tui was among the travel companies that cancelled package holidays to Rhodes across several days as wildfires burned on the Greek island, providing full refunds to the affected passengers.

The company said it had evacuated a total of 8,000 customers, and had operated 12 repatriation flights to bring people home, but it added that about 80% of those holidaying on the island at the time were not affected by the fires.

It and other travel companies were urged at the time by consumer groups to reimburse holidaymakers who chose not to travel to anywhere on the island while the fires burned.

Tui said that Rhodes accounted for about 5% of its summer holiday offering this year, and while bookings had been affected straight after the fires in Rhodes and southern Europe, they had recovered quickly. The company’s foundation has launched a fundraising campaign for people on Rhodes directly affected by the fires, and said it would double every donation received.

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The company said it was benefiting from strong demand but also from higher prices for holidays, and was on track to reach its expectations for full-year profit.

Tui reported it had 12.5m bookings for this summer, of which 4.3m bookings had been added since it last updated investors in early May. It has sold 86% of its summer offering, matching levels seen last year and in 2019, before the pandemic.

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