Sunday , March 26 2023

Tui tells customers it has learned from flight delays and cancellations

The travel firm Tui has written to customers promising that it has learned from the delays and cancellations that ruined the May half-term holiday for many travellers, in an attempt to build confidence before the key summer bookings period.

The company apologised again for the disruption to plans, as it prepared to be questioned alongside other industry representatives on Tuesday by MPs on the Commons business select committee which is looking at flight cancellations and compensation.

A spokesperson for Tui said customers who had been affected by cancellations were rebooking and while no more customers than usual were cancelling their holidays, new bookings had been softer across the industry.

“Travel is a confidence game; we see big comebacks in travel,” she said, saying that bookings were expected to strengthen again once passengers felt reassured that their travel plans for the summer were safe.

The Tui UK managing director, Andrew Flintham, wrote to customers to explain that the company relies on a complex ecosystem of services, including its own pilots and cabin crew, as well as operational partners that cover check-in, baggage and catering, and air traffic control and airport security.

“Over the first weekend of the May half-term, the ecosystem experienced capacity issues that impacted some of our customers,” Flintham wrote. “In some instances, customers were subject to delays and – in rare cases – cancellations. These customers had a poor experience – for that, and the distress caused by the cancellations, I apologise.”

“I would like to assure you that we have learned from what happened, and we’re working closely with our partners to address the issues that caused the delays and cancellations.” He said this week the vast majority of Tui’s flights had operated normally, sending more than 200,000 customers on their holidays.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled by airlines over the half-term break which coincided with the four-day jubilee bank holiday weekend, as they struggled to cope with a surge in demand. Carriers and airports laid off tens of thousands of people during the pandemic and have been slow to recruit more staff, with some gone to other industries and others lost because of Brexit.

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The company’s teams have been helping customers find alternative holidays, and are processing refunds. “And I can assure you that Tui would never leave you stranded overseas,” Flintham wrote.

A spokesperson for Tui said the problems mainly affected the UK, but not Germany or the rest of western Europe.

The email, sent late on Monday, came ahead of a hearing held by the business, energy and industrial strategy committee about the chaos faced by passengers over half-term, where executives from Tui, British Airways and easyJet will be questioned by MPs. The hearing starts later on Tuesday morning. EasyJet, Britain’s biggest carrier, made the most flight cancellations.

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