We spoke to TUI CFO Sebastian Ebel about lean periods, government aid and the Germans’ love of travel. By Wolfgang Ehrensberger
€ uro on Sunday: TUI shareholders recently cleared the way for a capital increase and thus also for four billion euros in state aid for the corona-damaged group. Success stands and falls with the new travel season. How are the pre-bookings going?
Sebastian Ebel: We see enormous demand, people want to travel. In the current situation, guests continue to book at short notice, but already of higher quality. Familiar destinations around the Mediterranean are in demand: Mallorca, Greece, Turkey, the Canary Islands. We want to offer 80 percent of the original summer program and expect – provided that a sufficient number of people are vaccinated quickly – a largely normalized summer season.
Even if the lockdown has just been extended and tightened?
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That doesn’t change the prospects for tourism. But I would like us to focus all our energy on vaccination now. Lockdown is not a permanent solution for a country.
When do you pay back the state aid?
We will bridge the coming months with the package, which contains silent partnership contributions from the state, guarantees and a capital increase. At the same time, we are accelerating the corporate restructuring and cost reductions. In the medium term, we want to save 400 million euros a year. When we are allowed to offer trips again widely, we will start repaying the loans.
What does the state aid cost you?
In 2020, the interest result was 276 million euros. In 2021 we expect an interest burden of 400 to 450 million euros.
How is the capital increase going?
We are only allowed to announce how the shareholders subscribed at the end. But you see me in a good mood.