UK travel firms hit by heat wave, shares plunge

As Britain registers its first prolonged heat wave since 2006, travel agents have reported a 25 percent fall in booking for overseas holidays.

According to Steve Endacott, founder of the On Holiday Group, the drop is exactly the same size as the one following the Icelandic ash cloud crisis in 2010. ‘Few of us saw this coming. My personal conclusion is that [the slump] will probably last as long as the heat wave does,’ he reportedly told The Independent.

‘Rather than delaying the booking decision, [the heat wave] may be simply removing customers from the market.’ Endacott said, adding. ‘When a heat wave hits, it’s very tempting to shelve the overseas holiday and just sit in the garden.’

Amid concerns over the impact of the UK heat wave on foreign holiday bookings, the Stock Exchange saw shares in travel firms plunge on Wednesday. Thomson and First Choice owner, Tui Travel, fell as much as 4.5 percent, before closing 2.9 percent lower at GBP3.655, dropping from an all-time high. Thomas Cook slid 2.1 percent to GBP1.426, after earlier losing as much as 3 percent.

Budget airlines easyJet and Ryanair also plunged, with the former dipping GBP0.08 to GBP13.50 in London, and the latter declining EUR0.128 cents to EUR6.95 in Dublin.

‘We understand that there has been some negative impact on late bookings across the scheduled and charter airline space with holiday-goers choosing domestic summer destinations over traditional European sun hot spots,’ Goodbody Stockbrokers expert, Donal O’Neill, said, adding that he had spoken to operators and airlines in both the UK and Ireland to assess the impact on their latest trading.

‘There was broad agreement that a continuation of trend could take some of the froth out of margins,’ he added.

The Independent had earlier reported that the travel industry was expecting better sales of last-minute holidays than last year, when Britons stayed back to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics.