Travel giant Tui is axing 8,000 jobs worldwide in a bid to slash costs by almost a third amid a massive slump in bookings.
The bombshell follows reports that summer holiday reservations plunged by 83 per cent because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Winter bookings are said to be down by almost 60 per cent and prices reduced by 19 per cent with the uncertainty over government travel restrictions blamed for the cutbacks.
Capacity for summer holidays next year is also expected to be reduced – although bookings are reported to be healthy.
Tui revealed it was shutting 166 travel agencies in the UK and Ireland to leave a network of 350 shops earlier this year.
Group chief executive Fritz Joussen said in a trading update: “We have successfully restarted our operations; customers are enjoying their holidays with newly adapted hygiene protocols and we have taken 1.4 million customers on their holidays since restart.
“Destination availability at present is highly influenced by government policy and development of the pandemic, meaning the environment remains volatile, and is likely to remain so for the next few quarters.
“Leisure holidays remain important to customers and have been one of the most missed activities during the pandemic, with leisure travel expected to recover faster than business travel.”
The update added: “We will monitor and flexibly adapt our capacity, in line with demand as well as travel restrictions, to ensure we continue to responsibly offer our customers a range of safe winter holiday options,” the group said.
“Over the last month, we have been impacted by continuous changes in travel advice by various governments across our markets.
“We expect travel advice by each regional government to remain highly fluid, and we subsequently expect short term bookings to continue until customers are able to plan with more certainty.
“Where possible, we would prefer to see a regional risk assessment policy being applied by each government rather than a blanket travel policy.
“In addition, if testing were to be made more available on arrival in destination and on departure then this would also help to avoid compulsory quarantine and movement restrictions.
“On an underlying basis we see strong customer intention to travel, with many customers wanting to secure their summer holidays well ahead of time.”
Meanwhile, it has been announced that more than 1,000 ground operations roles are under threat at Heathrow Airport.
Menzies Aviation has started redundancy consultations with 1,050 workers and informed all staff they are to face a 50 per cent cut in hours, according to the GMB union.
Last week the company announced it was also planning to shed 200 jobs at Luton Airport.