Britain's biggest holiday company has called for “a regional risk assessment policy” from the government rather than the current blanket travel policy that sees most foreign countries classified as “unacceptably high risk”.
Tui made the demand in a trading update covering its pan-European operations.
The firm said it began 2020 with “the best booking month in the company’s history”. But the coronavirus crisis wiped out its operations for three months from mid-March.
Between the restart of operations in mid-June and the end of August 2020, the company took 1.4 million people on holiday – filling five out of six seats on its planes on average.
But over the same spell in 2019, Tui provided holidays for around eight times as many people.
Over the summer its operations have been hit by “continuous changes in travel advice by various governments across our markets.”
Holidays from the UK have been disrupted by the spread of 14 days’ quarantine for travellers returning to the UK, starting in late July for Spain and continuing with Malta, Croatia, Portugal and seven Greek islands.
Tui says: “If testing were to be made more available on arrival in destination and on departure then this would also help to avoid compulsory quarantine and movement restrictions.”
The firm said it expects late bookings to be the name “until customers are able to plan with more certainty”.
The firm has cut its reduced summer 2020 offering still further by one-sixth, from 30 per cent to 25 per cent, and switched “to alternative low-risk destinations, enabling many customers to continue their holidays as planned”.
With infection rates and government restrictions rising, the already reduced winter programme has been cut by a quarter. Tui will now offer 60 per cent of its original programme, down from 80 per cent.
It has restarted cruising on very limited itineraries, primarily in the Baltic, “with a mandatory negative PCR test result a prerequisite for travel”.
Next summer’s overall schedule is expected to be 20 per cent lower, but Tui said average selling prices for summer 2021 are 10 per cent higher.
It intends to cut its "annual overhead cost base” by 30 per cent, meaning up to 8,000 job cuts across Europe.
The chief executive of Tui Group, Friedrich Joussen, concluded: “Leisure holidays remain important to customers and have been one of the most missed activities during the pandemic.
“We are strategically well placed to benefit as leisure travel volume recovers over the coming seasons.
“Tui will emerge a stronger, leaner, more digitalised business and is well positioned to benefit from the expected recovery.“