GalleryJet2holidays Partnerships2success Conference awards

Independent travel agents have been urged not to sell Thomas Cook or Tui packages by the boss of Jet2holidays, who said doing so was tantamount to “helping your high street competitors”.

Chief executive Steve Heapy said he will say “no thank you” if Jet2holidays’ rival operators ask to sell its packages again. Thomas Cook decided to stop selling Jet2holidays in February.

The independent agents attending the second half of the Partnerships2Success conference at Hard Rock Hotel, Tenerife, were told they have a “great opportunity” to be Jet2holidays’ face on the high street.

The percentage of Jet2holidays sales made through travel agents dipped from 32%, which it had been at since 2010/11, to 28%. Heapy put this down to Thomas Cook’s decision to pull out of selling his company’s product.

Heapy added: “Every time you book Thomas Cook or Tui you are putting money into them, and they are your competitors on the high street. So [if you sell them], you are feeding your competitors.

“It’s now impossible for Thomas Cook or Tui to sell Jet2holidays. If they ask us if they can start selling us again, we’ll say ‘no thank you’.

“Let’s stop customers going into Thomas Cook or Tui shops and asking for Jet2holidays only to be switch sold. We are the tour operator for independent travel agents.”

Agents were once again assured that Jet2holidays has no plans to open shops of its own and, after feedback from the trade, will be adding a list of independent agents who sell Jet2holidays to its website to direct customers to the high street.

Heapy was in a buoyant mood as he announced profits so far this year were up 30% – following a 4% dip in the last financial year.

He said the dip was down to the operator’s investment in its two new bases – Stansted and Birmingham – which launched last year.

The 250 agents attending the conference were all given a copy of parent company Dart Group plc’s financial results and told advance bookings had surpassed £1 billion for the first time.

Revenue so far this year is up from 1.24 billion to 1.67 billion and the company has £993.1 million in gross cash.

“We’re very proud of our results, which is why we’re sharing them with you,” said Heapy. “Given the recent events with Monarch [going into administration] it’s important that you know we are financially secure.

“You can be confident that we are financially sound and are here to stay.”

Speaking to Travel Weekly, he said the company had limited the impact of the fall in the value of the pound against the euro because it had hedged currency in advance.

Agents were also told how customers taking Jet2holidays now account for 50% of seats sold on airlines. That was up one percentage point on last year, but a marked increase since 2010/11, when holidays customers accounted for just 6% of seats on the company’s aircraft.

Jet2CityBreaks had also grown, he added, from 170,000 passengers last year to an expected 200,000+ by the end of this year – making it the largest provider of UK city break packages.

Heapy said it was “achievable” that Jet2holidays would use its full Atol licence to carry 2.9 million passengers, adding: “If sales are even better than that during the course of the year we will see if we can increase the numbers as we go along.”

On overtaking Thomas Cook as the second largest Atol holder in the UK, he said: “We never had an expectation of overtaking Thomas Cook, we’ve just responded to customer demand and as a consequence we’ve got bigger numbers than them.”

GalleryJet2holidays Partnerships2success Conference awards