Operators and airlines urged to ‘hold nerve’ on summer capacity

Travel agents have urged tour operators and airlines to ‘hold their nerve’ this summer amid fears of summer capacity changes.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, agents said they did not want a repeat of last summer when operators and airlines withdrew flights and holidays at short notice.

Sutton Travel managing director Andy Tomlinson said: “My biggest concern is if the likes of Jet2 or Tui or easyJet …suddenly decide to pull flights on certain dates due to capacity. I noticed a couple of days ago that multiple flights on the same route are starting to be pulled.

“What we don’t want, now we have got amber [countries] and no quarantine, is that next week we get communications from operators like we did last summer to say, sorry that this flight has been withdrawn.

“I am hoping that after so long without flights going the operators and airlines can hold their nerve even if it means sending out flights with 40%, 50% or 60% loads, and keep operating as planned.”

Agents also voiced fears over rapid price hikes this summer.

The Travel Snob owner David Walker said agents had to act fast to confirm bookings with clients in order to secure current prices.

“If I talk to someone now who wants to go away at the beginning of August, the first thing is [I say] is ‘are you ready to book’, ‘have you got your card’. We can’t be fussy,” he said.

“You click on something and then the holidays is no longer available or you go back to the client, they say yes and you go back and it’s gone.”

Walker, who said it was unusual to see availability so tight across so many holidays, contacted clients interested in travelling this summer immediately after the government’s recent announcements to relax amber restrictions and expand the green list.

“I was immediately on the phone to them to say let’s do it quickly to beat any potential price increases over the weekend,” he said.

Already prices are up significantly for next year, he added, and he has made a decision not to advertise late deals. “I am not going to advertise last minute departures because you can guarantee they won’t be there,” he added.

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