Tui said the bounceback in demand for travel has helped summer bookings soar close to levels seen before the pandemic, but revealed growth was held back by disruption from devastating wildfires in Rhodes.
The group reported a 5% rise in summer bookings to 13.7 million, reaching 96% of levels seen before the pandemic struck.
It said it had taken 1.1 million extra bookings since its last update in early August alone, with demand in the final month of the season “well ahead” of last summer, up 8%.
UK summer bookings have so far been in line with a year earlier, but have surged past pre-Covid levels, up 4% on summer 2019.
The group said it would have performed even better than expected in the peak summer quarter had it not been for disruption from events such as the wildfires in Rhodes.
The Germany-based airline and package holiday firm evacuated around 8,000 guests from Rhodes after wildfires broke out in July amid a searing heatwave in Europe, with around 5% of all its flights going to the Greek island in the summer.
It said last month it was expecting a 25 million euro (£22 million) hit from the wildfires.
But in its latest update, Tui confirmed it was on track to deliver full-year underlying earnings “significantly” higher in the fourth quarter and full year to September 30, despite the impact.
Tui chief executive Sebastian Ebel said: “We are seeing a strong close to the summer season and we are on course to achieve results in line with expectations.
“This is particularly evident in our main markets – Germany, where bookings year-on-year are 10% higher, and UK, where bookings are in line with an already strong prior year summer season and 4% ahead of pre-pandemic levels.
“Indeed, had it not been for the various events during the last few months which were outside of our control, not least the wildfires on Rhodes, we would have performed ahead of expectations.”
Tui said summer holiday selling prices were 8% higher year-on-year on average across its markets and 27% higher versus summer 2019, and slightly ahead of levels reported in its third quarter.
It added that bookings for the winter season were 15% higher than a year earlier, with average selling prices up 4%.
In the UK, winter bookings are 8% higher year-on-year and prices are up 3%.