Following Thomson’s profits warning and the departure of chief executive Paul Brett, everyone else has been claiming that the market is just fine.
Rubbish – the market has been as flat as a pancake for a few weeks now and operators are praying for a quick upturn in demand.
Airtours will probably stay on course for strong profits because it can offset downturns in the UK market with a strong performance elsewhere, notably Scandinavia.
Thomas Cook could be doing brilliantly or having a nightmare – it doesn’t have to tell us because it doesn’t answer to UK shareholders. But Thomas Cook has significantly increased its tour operating capacity this year and like everyone else will be finding it tough.
First Choice has managed its business better than most, albeit from a smaller base, because it has sold more holidays early.
Of course Thomson has got problems. But the market leader is forced to be more open than anyone else because its sheer size makes it difficult to mask any problems and because it has an over-reliance on the UK market.
Meanwhile, it is a disgrace that the Government has taken nearly 20 months to force the issue of transparancy between retailers and operators. It’s time to get notices on shop windows and stop giving consumer groups the chance to say the travel industry is conning its customers.
Jeremy Skidmore – editor
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