Tui, the world’s largest travel group, saw a huge influx of new customers as a result of the bankruptcy of its former rival Thomas Cook, which went broke in September 2019, it said on Tuesday.
“January this year was very, very strong,” Tui CEO Fritz Joussen told journalists on an earnings call on Tuesday.
Tui (TUI.L) in the UK had the biggest month of bookings in its history, it said. The surge in new bookings helped the company withstand the financial impact from the Boeing 737 MAX ban.
The 737 MAX planes were grounded last March after two fatal crashes and the ban is expected to be extended until mid-2020 or even later.
The Hanover-headquartered travel company said that the ongoing ban on the Boeing aircraft will drag it down during this current financial year, as it will cost between €220m ($240m, £186m) and €245m to lease new planes, but that it is expecting some still-to-be-negotiated compensation from Boeing.
For the financial year ending in September Tui said it expected underlying core earnings (EBIT) of between €850m and €1.05bn.
The coronavirus outbreak has not so far impacted travel demand, according to the chief executive, however he noted that this was also down to the fact that European consumers do not normally book Asian vacations at this time of year.
“Tui is clearly capitalising on TCG's demise and less customer choice, confirmation of compensation from Boeing is reassuring and the results reflect a heavy dose of in-built conservatism given the cost measures, suggesting the top end of guidance may be achievable,” said Barclays in a note.
Tui shares surged by almost 12% in London on Tuesday morning.