TUI sees customer numbers rise despite higher prices

Looking forward to an annual turnover boost of around 3 per cent, the group said it made its first underlying profit for the first nine months of the year, which is usually a sluggish period for sales.

Thomson holidays owner TUI Group enjoyed a 5 per cent rise in customer numbers in the third quarter, with bookings 'as high as the previous year', despite holidaymakers being hit with higher costs since the plunge in the pound after Brexit.

Looking forward to an annual turnover boost of around 3 per cent, the group said it made its first underlying profit for the first nine months of the year, which is usually a sluggish period for sales.

TUI, which is also behind First Choice, is understood to be considering reinstating holidays from the UK to Tunisia, following the terrorist attack at a resort in Sousse in 2015 which killed 31 Britons.

Boost: TUI enjoyed a 5% increase in customer numbers in the third quarter

Boost: TUI enjoyed a 5% increase in customer numbers in the third quarter

The FTSE 100 group's share price is currently down 1.52 per cent or 19p to 1,228p. 

Chief executive Fritz Joussen said the group was in 'excellent shape.'

He added: 'We have significantly reduced the seasonal swing of our business.

'For the first time, we have delivered a positive operating result for the first nine months of a financial year.'

TUI confirmed it expects annual underlying earnings to rise by at least 10 per cent, having notched up a 37.7 per cent surge to £200million in its third quarter, thanks to a boost from Easter and the impact of the weak pound on UK sales.

The company's third quarter earnings increased by 18.7 per cent to £172.7million. After nine months, TUI's earnings reached £6.6million, compared to losses of £41.1million a year earlier.

 Re-brand: TUI is rebranding its firm in the UK from this autumn

 Re-brand: TUI is rebranding its firm in the UK from this autumn

In light of a spate of terrorist attacks, TUI shifted its operations away from the likes of Egypt and Tunisia, but is understood to be considering reinstating flights from the UK to the latter destination if customer demand calls for it.

In a statement, TUI said: 'Thomson and First Choice follow the FCO's advice for all destinations we operate to. 

'As the overall level of advice has now changed for Tunisia, we will look at whether we will re-introduce the destination for future seasons, which will also take in to account customer demand.'

The group said bookings have been strong for Spain, Cape Verde, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and the Caribbean. 

TUI also said it was starting to see renewed popularity for holidays to Turkey and North Africa, destinations which have been affected by political chaos and terror attacks.

From this autumn, TUI is rolling out its rebrand within the UK. All of the company's brands will come under the TUI logo, marking the end of Thomson and First Choice as separate brands.