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NEWS


THE ROYAL SMILE: The Queen visited British Airways’ headquarters at Heathrow as part of its centenary celebrations. Her Majesty was introduced to BA staff in heritage uniforms from across the airline’s history and she visited British Airways’ museum, The Speedbird Centre, where she was shown artefacts and memorabilia relating to her journeys with the airline – including her first transatlantic flight, on a Boeing Stratocruiser from London to Montreal, in 1951. The Queen, pictured with chief executive Alex Cruz, unveiled a plaque featuring BA’s centenary logo.


Price drops prompt fears for profits ahead of lates period


Juliet Dennis


Next month will be critical to travel companies’ botom lines as selling prices continue to be slashed even before the late-sale period begins. Prices for some destinations


have dropped by 15% to 20% in the past week, particularly to Greece and Turkey, according to Steve Campion, managing director of Holiday Discount Centre. He said: “June will be key. I suspect


Travel Weekly found deals on STORY TOP


the industry will recover some lost ground, but if you don’t get the business back in June it will be a struggle.” Icelolly.com chief executive


Richard Singer said prices for Tenerife, Majorca, Costa Blanca, Dalaman and the Algarve were up to 20% down for July departures compared with 2018.


travelweekly.co.uk


Icelolly as low as £266 for seven nights’ self-catering at Arcos Playa, Majorca, from Luton on July 30 with easyJet Holidays. Singer said: “Tere’s a lot of discounting, which is a continuation of what was happening earlier in the year. Advertisers have been more aggressive, which is stimulating the market. If the year ends flat, that would be deemed a good year. In terms of


margins, operators’ holidays are a lot less profitable.” Alistair Rowland, chief retail officer


for specialist business at Midcounties Co-operative, said prices last week were down by about 5% year on year. “It’s not good prices are lower;


normally there is a 3% to 5% growth in prices [annually]. We haven’t seen selling


I suspect there is


an awful lot of capacity left to sell and I fear discounts will get bigger and trash margins


prices going backwards for a few years.” However, he stressed the market


had not crashed. Jane Schumm, Hays Travel retail


and training director, said the agency’s tour operation was enjoying a healthy year-on-year increase in margins, but said prices from third-party operators were “exceptional”. Experts fear prolonged discounting


over recent months in a soſt market has already “done the damage”. Speaking at Barclays Travel Forum,


Martin Alcock, director of the Travel Trade Consultancy, described heavy discounting and zero deposits as “short-term sticking plasters”. He said: “Te first person who


flinches and starts discounting means everyone else has to go with them and it’s trashing the market.” Alcock said a company “only really


knows what its profits are when a customer has departed”, adding that the financial impact of discounting would “come home to roost” in autumn. Alan Bowen, legal adviser to the


Association of Atol Companies, said: “Tere is a general lack of demand for the ordinary family holiday. We have seen discounting since January. I suspect there is an awful lot of capacity leſt to sell and I fear discounts will get


bigger and trash margins.” › Barclays Travel Forum, page 10


30 MAY 2019 5


PICTURE: British Airways


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