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The January peak sales campaigns spurred a 2% rise in package holiday bookings on last year and left season-to-date bookings 6% up on summer 2015 at the start of February.
Analyst GfK reported a 15% year-on-year rise in summer 2016 short-haul bookings in the five weeks to January 30, but a 10% drop in medium-haul, with bookings to Tunisia wiped out and Egypt down 88%.
Long-haul bookings were up 13% on last January and the Caribbean up 28%. Family bookings led the way, with GfK reporting season-to-date sales for summer up 10% against a 3% rise in non-family bookings.
January ended with short-haul passenger bookings up 20% for the season to date and long-haul up 9%, against a 5% fall in mid-haul. Customers switching from Sharm el-Sheikh and Tunisia will be one factor behind the long-haul rise.
Another could be the abolition of Air Passenger Duty (APD) on economy fares for children following the move to a single APD rate for mid and long‑haul flights last April. APD on economy flights for children up to 12 was scrapped last May.
From March 1, there is no APD on economy fares for children under 16, meaning a saving of £146 on a long-haul trips this summer for a family with two children under 16.
Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and the Caribbean all benefited in the first weeks of 2016, with a 23% increase year on year in summer bookings to Spain, 28% to Portugal, 5% to Greece and 10% to Cyprus.
January’s bookings left the Canaries up 33% for the season and the Balearics up 20%.
The big losers were Turkey, down 46% in the five weeks to January 30 and 33% for the season, and Egypt with bookings down 54% for the season to date.
Morocco has also seen a drop, down 29% in January and 11% overall.
There has been a small increase in average selling prices on last year against a background of low inflation, with average short-haul prices for the summer up £6 and long-haul £8.
Tui confirmed the decline to Turkey in an otherwise strong market as it reported a 5.4% rise in turnover and 7.2% increase in underlying operating profit for the three months to December.
The group reported UK summer 2016 bookings up 9% on last year, though with average prices 1% lower “reflecting input costs, including fuel”.
Chief executive Fritz Joussen said: “Turkey is down 40%, but Turkey is not everything. We assume bookings in general this year will not be below last year.”
Joussen described the UK market as “enormously strong” and reported “very strong growth in the Caribbean”.
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