Tui Travel will add mainstream capacity from the UK next summer for the first time since 2007.
Chief executive Peter Long confirmed the first growth since the merger of Thomson and First Choice five years ago, telling Travel Weekly: “We’ll be setting out a road map for growth in December. Our plans will become clear.
“We’re at a point where we are positioned for growth. We plan, in a measured way, to increase the numbers we take on holiday.
“It is not a question of how we compete [in this market]; it’s a question of how quickly we grow.”
The company revealed “a slight increase” in summer 2013 capacity from the UK in a trading update last week, but gave no details. Tui Travel’s capacity for the coming winter matches last year’s.
Long will unveil preliminary full-year figures in December.
Tui Travel has cut UK mainstream capacity substantially since 2007, removing a further 6% this year.
However, Long and deputy chief executive Johan Lundgren are bullish about the group’s prospects. Long said: “We plan to grow next summer. We are not managing decline. In this market, the strong will get stronger.”
The summer programme will not depend on what happens in the UK or eurozone economies. He said: “We are not blasé, but we are not overly concerned about the euro.”
Lundgren said: “We’re going to grow from a demand-driven point of view.
“We’re not throwing aircraft into the market just because we’re having a good year. This will be driven by new product.”
Thomson Airways will begin services on the Dreamliner next May, adding to the level of differentiation on offer. Lundgren insisted: “We won’t sell seat-only on the 787. It’s not a commodity.”
He said Tui would not follow Thomas Cook in taking seats on easyJet: “It’s not on our agenda. We’re investing in our airline. We’re buying the Boeing 787.”
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