Tui losses widen and summer bookings fall amid Brexit uncertainty

Holiday giant Tui has suffered widened losses for the half-year and a fall in summer bookings as Brexit uncertainty weighed on consumer confidence.

The FTSE 100 company reported an underlying loss of 301 million euros (£261 million) for the six-month period to March 2019, up from a 170 million euro (£148 million) loss in the same period last year.

It said the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max planes has also eaten into profits.

It warned in March that the grounding could cost up to 300 million euros (£261 million) as it leases more aircraft in response.

The planes were grounded in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March which killed 157 people, months after the Lion Air crash in Indonesia which killed 189 people.

Tui’s fleet, which comprises around 150 aircraft, currently includes 15 grounded 737 Max planes for the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden. A further eight 737 Max aircraft had been on order.

The firm also said the results reflected the knock-on impact of last summer’s heatwave, a shift in demand from Spanish holidays to eastern Mediterranean destinations and uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

Turnover rose 1.7% to 6.68 billion euros (£5.8 billion) as it hailed a strong performance by its hotels and cruise ships business.

However, bookings in its package holiday and airlines business for this summer sank 3% while selling prices rose just 1% amid market competition.

The company has warned on profits twice this year – blaming one on the UK market and another on the grounding of the Boeings – but held firm on profit guidance for the year.

Tui chief executive Fritz Joussen said: “Tui is on track, both strategically and operationally, and is well positioned. That is why 2019 will be another solid year.

“Our core businesses with our own hotels, cruises and destination experiences and activities remain strong and currently deliver around 70% of our earnings.

“Tui will emerge as a stronger, more efficient and more profitable group from the current consolidation of our sector in Europe.”