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FRANKFURT: TUI, the world’s largest tourism operator, said Wednesday it expects to see a return to pre-pandemic booking levels in the summer of 2022, after running up a heavy loss in its last financial year.

TUI, which runs its business year from October to September, said it booked net loss of 2.48 billion euros ($2.8 billion) for the year just ended, following a record loss of 3.1 billion euros the year before, as the coronavirus pandemic virtually shut down the tourism industry.

Nevertheless, chief executive Friedrich Joussen said the group’s operating business was “back” and he expected “booking levels similar to pre-corona 2019” in the peak travel season of the European summer next year.

In the period from July to September, traditionally the strongest period for the industry, the Hanover-based group said its revenues nearly tripled to 3.5 billion euros.

At an operating, or underlying level, it booked a loss of 97 million euros for for the three-month period compared with a loss of 570 million euros previously.

Hotels, crusies and chartered flights — the core of TUI’s business — have been severely impacted by the crisis.

In 2020, the German group responded by announcing plans to cut costs by 400 million euros each year by 2023.

The first quarter of its current business year, the three months to December was “almost fully booked”, said Joussen and the group was now operating at “69 percent of the pre-crisis level capacities”.

The spread of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus is among the factors that could affect the group’s plans for the year ahead, as governments reintroduce measures to rein in infections.

In October, TUI raised 1.1 billion euros in capital to refinance and begin repaying massive government loans it received towards the beginning of the pandemic.

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