Sweet day for European tourist values, long the most battered by the health explosion. Airlines, hotels, airport firms and reservation managers rose sharply this Tuesday after de-escalation plans in the United Kingdom have given wings to tourist reservations for the summer. The summer season is key for the income statements of this sector on both sides of the English Channel after the debacle caused by strict confinements to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The Spanish-British airline group IAG, which includes British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, among others, climbed almost 3% shortly after noon after starting the session with an increase of more than 7%. EasyJet scored 5% after announcing that its reserves originating in the British archipelago have soared 300% after the Boris Johnson Government unveiled its plans for a gradual return to normalcy and the tour operator TUI, which has revealed a 500% increase in the interest of its customers to travel in summer, up 2%. Ryanair and Jet2 rose 3% and slightly more than 1% respectively.
A second consecutive low summer would be a huge blow to the finances of these companies, which in recent months have redoubled their efforts to gather liquidity to survive in the harshest of the pandemic and, in some cases, such as those of Air France -KLM or Lufthansa, have had to resort to public bailouts to pass the drink. The prices of both also smile this Tuesday in the heat of the hope of a gradual reopening of the movements of holiday travelers in Europe: the titles of the French-Dutch were more expensive by 4% and those of the German, almost 2%.
The shares of the Spanish reservation firm Amadeus, whose activity depends to a great extent on the good performance of the airlines, rose by 6%. And those of the Spanish airport manager Aena, public-private owned and with direct interests in the United Kingdom —Controls 51% of the capital of the company that manages the Luton aerodrome—, they signed up almost 3%.
In the hotel sector, another of the hardest hit by the health crisis, the Spanish Meliá scored 1% and the French Accor recovered more than 2.5%. After falling sharply in 2020, the latest stock market surge has left both stocks close to pre-pandemic levels despite the fact that their activity continues to decline.
The mere expectation that the flow of British tourists will return to moderately noteworthy levels in the coming months is also important news for Spain, where traveler arrivals from the islands went from 3.7 million people in 2019 to just over 220,000 in a fateful 2020 and where the strength of the recovery depends largely on international tourism in summer. July, August and September concentrate the majority of British tourist departures to sun and beach destinations in southern Europe, including many on the Iberian Peninsula.
The detection in late December of the British strain of Covid-19, most contagious in the general population and deadliest in those over 60, forced London into an even tighter bolt and sparked a cascade of travel bans on the British in several European countries, including Spain. However, the rapid deployment of the vaccine on the islands is now encouraging a gradual return to life after a third wave of the especially damaging virus. Nearly 18 million people, one in four UK residents, have already received at least the first dose of the drug.
The British Executive’s gradual reopening plan involves maintaining the closure of businesses until April 12, the date on which it will also update the conditions under which travelers can leave the country. The return of bars and restaurants will have to wait until May 17, when airlines and hotels wait for the mandatory 10-day quarantine for those returning from abroad to expire.
Although that calendar points to a long and slow de-escalation, it also offers firms in the tourism sector an option to schedule their summer operations with some anticipation. The British authorities are studying, among other options, the possibility of issuing vaccination passports that would allow those who have received the immunization to move freely.