A third of Tui stores to shut as it fo­cuses on on­line book­ing

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Oliver Gill

TUI IS set to shut a third of its UK stores in an­other blow to the high street as the world’s big­gest travel firm pre­pares for a bleak sum­mer sea­son.

Around 166 sites will close as the for­mer FTSE 100 op­er­a­tor grap­ples with the fall­out from coro­n­avirus.

Tui’s changes are part of a rad­i­cal shift to move op­er­a­tions on­line. More than 600 re­tail staff will join a sales team that works from home.

It an­nounced plans in May to cut up to 8,000 jobs around the world. Tui con­firmed the re­dun­dan­cies yes­ter­day.

The com­pany’s UK and Ire­land boss An­drew Flintham said that Tui is re­flect­ing chang­ing cus­tomer tastes as more peo­ple pre­fer to book on­line.

It leaves the firm – for­merly known in the UK as Thom­son – with a re­tail net­work of 350 Bri­tish stores.

Mean­while the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity has se­cured a se­ries of com­mit­ments from air­lines to re­fund pas­sen­gers whose trips were can­celled, staving off the threat of en­force­ment ac­tion be­ing taken.

Many car­ri­ers were crit­i­cised for not of­fer­ing re­funds and en­cour­ag­ing cus­tomers to take credit notes or vouch­ers in­stead. Un­der EU rules, air­lines should of­fer a re­fund in cash within seven days for a can­celled flight.

Vir­gin At­lantic told some cus­tomers that they would have to wait up to 120 days for their money back, the reg­u­la­tor found. It has pledged to cut wait­ing times to 30 days by Oc­to­ber.

The reg­u­la­tor said: “We will be mon­i­tor­ing Vir­gin’s per­for­mance par­tic­u­larly closely and will con­sider the use of for­mal en­force­ment pow­ers if nec­es­sary.” CAA boss Richard Mo­ri­arty said: “Should any air­line fall short of the com­mit­ments they have made, we will not hes­i­tate to take any fur­ther ac­tion where re­quired.”

Corneel Koster, chief cus­tomer of­fi­cer at Vir­gin At­lantic, said: “The huge vol­ume of re­fund re­quests we have re­ceived, com­bined with the con­straints on our teams, has meant that re­funds have been tak­ing longer than usual.”

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