Tui announced the suspension of the “vast majority” of its operations due to Covid-19 on Sunday. However, Tui UK continued to operate to a handful of destinations at the start of the week.

Europe’s largest travel group also announced it was applying for state aid guarantees and withdrew its profit guidance for the year.

In a statement, the company said: “Tui Group has decided, in line with government guidelines, to suspend the vast majority of all travel operations until further notice, including package travel, cruises and hotel operations.

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“This is aimed at contributing to global governmental efforts to mitigate the effects of the spread of Covid-19.”

A Tui spokesman explained: “We are still operating in the sense we are bringing back customers, which is a huge operation, and bringing back cruise customers for example from the Caribbean.”

He added: “When we made the announcement, Tui Germany and Tui UK could still operate to Egypt, Cape Verde and Mexico.

“Then Germany recommended against travel abroad, so Tui Germany ceased all operations. The UK was ‘last man standing’ to destinations which remain open.”

The UK Foreign Office advised against all non-essential travel overseas on Tuesday (March 17).

The Tui statement made clear: “The group has cash and available facilities of approximately €1.4 billion.”

It added: “We are taking substantial cost measures [and] have decided to apply for state aid guarantees to support the business until normal operations are resumed.”

The spokesman confirmed: “We are stopping all investment, suspending large-scale projects, cutting external consultants, cutting all unnecessary spending and discussing reducing staff hours country by country.

“We are talking with the German government [about state aid]. We have a credit facility of €1.4 billion, but it’s not easy to anticipate how long this will take.

“To ensure we have the facilities to go through a longer time, we are also seeking state aid.

“We are a German company and the German government has said, ‘No company should go bust because of this situation’.”