OTAs and airline operators dominate list of UK’s largest travel firms

OTAs and airline operators dominate list of UK’s largest travel firms

Jet2holidays catches up with Tui while On The Beach and loveholidays remain in top five

Jet2holidays closed the gap on Tui UK in the latest round of Atol renewals to leave the big-two groups almost neck and neck for the title of UK’s biggest tour operator.

Tui remains the UK number one with a licence for 5,336,410 public sales over the 12 months to September 2023, up from about 5.1 million this summer.

But Jet2holidays is now only just behind with an Atol for exactly 5.3 million public sales, barely 36,000 behind Tui, an increase from 4.656 million this summer and from 3.8 million in the spring.

The latest renewal sees Jet2holidays surpass its previous highest Atol total of 4.8 million in the March 2020 renewals which proved impossible to fulfil because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, Tui UK is also licensed for additional Atol-protected sales. Tui cruise line Marella Cruises is licensed for 245,715, and Tui UK is licensed for 177,661 Atol-to-Atol sales – taking its total Atol licence numbers to 5,759,786.

Together, the big two anticipate carrying more than 11 million Atol-protected holidaymakers over the coming winter and next summer in a show of confidence in the UK market.

On the Beach with an Atol for 1,863,023 sales, We Love Holidays with 1,854,038 and easyJet Holidays with 1,294,465 make up the top-five licence holders. On the Beach has increased its licence by more than 600,000 compared to the Atol it held for summer 2020 and We Love Holidays grown by almost 800,000.

Atol numbers can vary over the course of a licensing period, but a significant variation must be signed off by the regulator, the CAA.

Commenting on Tui’s Atol increase, Tui UK and Ireland managing director Andrew Flintham told Travel Weekly: “It’s really positive. The industry is back. We’re seeing growth across all our destinations.

“Despite a lot of gloom about the economic future, it’s clear that people still value their holidays and we have great confidence and solid forward bookings.”

Jet2 and Jet2holidays chief executive Steve Heapy said the company’s focus was not on being the biggest Atol holder, but added its ongoing strong performance allowed it to continue to increase its licence.