Tour operator MyTravel warned that it may miss its UK targets for next year as trading has not fully recovered from the impact of this summer’s airport security alert and terror attacks in Turkey and Jordan.
MyTravel, the former Airtours which owns the Going Places travel agencies and also has an aviation division, downgraded its profit expectations in September. It expects group pretax profits for the year to October 31 to come in at between #40 million and #45 million.
Operating profit is expected to fall to between #55 million and #60 million compared with earlier estimates of #75 million to #85 million.
MyTravel said in a trading statement yesterday: "While overall UK trading has improved in recent weeks, it has still not fully recovered from the events of this summer, and if these conditions persist there could be a delay beyond 2006/07 in achieving our UK target."
MyTravel said winter trading in the United Kingdom remains challenging with charter holiday bookings down 9.5 per cent on ten per cent less capacity although bookings have seen some improvement over the last four weeks – adrift two per cent on last year.
The group said it had sold 43 per cent of its winter capacity, in line with last year while the average selling price is up three per cent.
In Northern Europe, bookings are down 5.5 per cent on eight per cent less capacity. The average selling price is up 11 per cent and 53 per cent of capacity has been sold.
In North America, where capacity was reduced last year because of the impact of hurricanes in the Caribbean, bookings are up three per cent on a capacity increase of four per cent.
"For the UK, it is very early to assess summer 2007, having sold only 20 per cent of our capacity, broadly in line with last year," MyTravel said.
"However, we are planning capacity conservatively and would expect a reduction of 3-5 per cent."
In August, heightened security measures were put in place across British airports after news of an alleged plot to blow up flights from the UK to North America emerged.
Shares in travel companies and firms connected to the industry fell in the wake of the news. Trading conditions had already been difficult due to the hot weather in the UK and the World Cup tournament, which encouraged potential customers to stay at home.
The impact of low-cost airlines and the internet has also eaten into profits in recent years as do-it-yourself holidays can work out cheaper than a package tour.
"This will be the group’s first profit before tax since 2001," MyTravel said.