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Published on Wednesday, April 8, 2020

TUI extends holiday cancellations to mid May




TUI has extended the suspension of all holidays until May 14, a month earlier than the date set by rival Jet2.

Jet2 has suspended all flights and holidays until at least June 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic.


It is believed TUI has set an earlier date to help stagger the workload for its workforce, which has been drastically reduced.


TUI has also cancelled all Marella Cruise holidays up to and including May 31, following the decision by the FCO to indefinitely ban all non-essential travel from the UK.

Although it has set those May dates, TUI is offering customers with TUI, Marella Cruises or First Choice, who have booked before March 17 and travelling on or before June 30, the chance to switch to any holiday that's currently on sale for free.

Meanwhile, TUI River Cruise, which was due to launch last month, will now start on November 26.

"We are constantly monitoring the situation and will start taking people on holiday again as soon as we are able to do so," it said in a statement.

"At this point in time, nobody can accurately predict when that will be, so for the time being we will keep a close eye on our programme and continue to amend and adapt timings in line with the latest global travel advice."

TUI said customers would be updated as soon as possible but warned that it might take some time.

"Our customer teams are working extremely hard to contact everyone affected, however changes in ways of working and the closure of our retail stores have impacted the speed at which this can happen. And have also made it more difficult for our customers to reach us,' it said.

"We do understand this may be frustrating but we'd like to assure everyone that we will be in touch as soon as we can."

Customers who want to switch their holiday to any other TUI package holiday on sale for free can do so via its website 'manage my booking' facility.

"Customers who booked in retail should wait for us to contact them to discuss their options," it said.

The announcements from TUI and Jet2 will bring a new rush of calls to travel agents, who are already feeling the strain.

Many have been left to hold the fort while other staff have been furloughed.


Andy Tomlinson, managing director of Sutton Travel in the West Midlands, said the date set by TUI seemed 'very optimistic'.


"As an agent, desparate to see a return to travel operations as soon as we can, then I'm more comfortable with Jet2's prudent announcement, which seems sensible/realistic," he posted on Facebook.


Consumer body, Which?, has criticised TUI for lack of information.


Editor Rory Boland said: "TUI is acting disgracefully by telling customers 'don't call us, we'll call you' and then failing to provide any information about their rights to a refund for cancelled holidays, sometimes costing thousands of pounds. Many of these people may desperately need their money back because they are under financial pressure due to coronavirus.

"The travel industry is under great strain, and while we encourage holidaymakers to rebook or accept vouchers if it suits their circumstances, it should not be on consumers to prop up the UK's biggest holiday company while they are left to suffer without their money.
 
"To help end this uncertainty, the government should confirm how it intends to support the travel industry through this outbreak while ensuring that consumers can still claim their money back and have it returned to them within a reasonable timeframe."
 

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