German market trends

Strong Med bookings but Turkey cutback concerns

German tour operators have reported strong overall demand for most Mediterranean destinations but are worried about possible flight cuts to poorly-booked Turkey.

February 09, 2017
Greek beaches (here Zakynthos) will be full this summer
Photo: Thinkstock

Various tour operators have confirmed recent indications of surging bookings for Spain and Greece along with a clear comeback for Egypt but are concerned that airlines might switch too much capacity away from Turkey in response to weak bookings, thus preventing better late sales closer to the summer.

TUI Germany confirmed that it has a significant rise in bookings, including a 41% sales increase for Greece. “The Canary Islands and mainland Spain are still in strong demand along with Italy and Croatia with double-digit bookings growth,” the market leader added. In a sign of stronger demand for Egypt, TUIfly will resume flights to Hurghada this summer with weekly flights from four airports.

Thomas Cook Germany said: “We’re satisfied with bookings. At present, Spain is ahead for summer 2017, followed by Greece, Turkey, Germany, Italy and Croatia.” DER Touristik already recently confirmed these sales trends. Its bookings for Greece have doubled, Egypt is making a major comeback, while Spain, Portugal and Italy all remain popular.

FTI declared that it took more than 30,000 bookings on January 31, making it the strongest-ever sales day in the company’s history, with strong sales for Spain, Greece and Egypt. The tour operator is adding 14 more flights to Egypt for the Easter holidays.

However, there is one cloud on the horizon. Condor and TUIfly are apparently planning to substantially reduce capacity to Turkey this summer due to the current weak demand. About one third of the four million charter seats could be at risk, according to sources. The two airlines said only that their flight schedules “are regularly reviewed and adapted to demand”.

But some tour operators are concerned that there might not be enough flight capacity available if there are strong late sales for Turkey, while there could also be over-capacity to other destinations as a result.

Deniz Ogur, head of specialist tour operator Bentour, warned: “If the airlines switch routes, then there will be a shortage of flights for Turkey. Instead, we will have far more airline seats in other destinations than there are beds.”

FTI managing director Ralph Schiller commented: “It’s necessary to maintain the appropriate flight capacity. It would not be the right signal for the development of the destination if the quantity of seats is reduced dramatically.”

Online tour operator Tropo has similar concerns. “The airlines are pulling out of a looming last-minute market with a likely heavy yield decline,” said Okan Doganaslan, director of sales & marketing. “That’s sensible for the carriers but it would be a bad signal for Turkish tourism.”

In contrast, Öger Tours managing director Songül Göktas-Rosati played down the impact of any capacity reductions. “As a Turkey specialist we probably have the most comprehensive flight programme for all Turkish airports in the market. So we are perfectly positioned and have sufficient capacity if individual charter carriers adapt their schedules to demand, which is a perfectly normal process,” she stated.

One beneficiary of any capacity withdrawal could be Sun Express, the Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines subsidiary. “We have responded to the already apparent capacity reduction by competitors for summer 2017 with a moderate expansion of our offering compared to last year,” the airline stated.

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