Graz Airport and Thomas Cook Austria: Holidays - Results 2012 and Outlook 2013

Thomas Cook highly profitable in Austria - Spain again the most popular flight destination - Turkey enjoys significant boost leaving Greece and Egypt behind - Tunisia is recovering gradually and is attracting more guests again

Graz Airport, 04 April 2013 –

The difficult situation the European aviation business had to cope with in 2012 made itself felt mainly at regional airports. At Graz Airport, for example, passenger numbers declined by 4.7%. Despite the tense situation important steps were taken in 2012 that have an impact on 2013: With the new flight connection to Zurich that was launched on 14 January this year, yet another major transfer hub airport can be reached (several times) daily. The increase of the number of flights to Berlin opens up new options. The summer flight plan includes more than 100 flights per week from Graz to the large transfer hubs of Frankfurt, Vienna, Munich, Zurich and Berlin.

Thomas Cook highly profitable in Austria
Despite the difficulties that Thomas Cook Group had to face last year, its Central European operations (including the Austrian subsidiary) were once again highly profitable, achieving a result of nearly 61 million pounds. The positive development of the whole company and of Thomas Cook Austria AG continued in the first quarter of the current business year. The result has been improved, the transformation of the group is making good progress.

Thomas Cook saw a continuing trend in long-distance travel during 2012. The Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Maldives continued to be highly popular, while Mexico and Kenya declined slightly.

"All things considered, we are happy with the outcome of the 2012 business year. We were able to achieve all our goals and see a good result. In line with the overall development, Styrian holiday-makers love our Spain offers the most. Greece is still ranking third in popularity, but thanks to the great number of flights to Greece, the destination is thrusting vigorously towards the second place, currently held by Turkey. With Öger Tours we have developed into THE Turkey expert on the Austrian market. All in all, holiday bookings from Graz are at the same level as last year", said Thomas Cook CEO Ioannis Afukatudis.

50 years Neckermann
Precisely fifty years ago, the first Neckermann travel catalogues for the summer of 1963 were published. Back then they were four-coloured brochures in DIN-A 5 format that were sent to millions of German homes as supplements to mail order catalogues and included travels to Mallorca, Tunisia, Dalmatia, Montenegro, the Costa de Sol and the Black Sea.
The advertising campaign celebrating the 50th anniversary is under the motto "Urlaub aus dem Sie nicht zurück wollen" (Holidays that will make you want to stay) and is a tongue-in-cheek allusion to the high satisfaction rate of Neckermann customers. The campaign images show the diversity of Neckermann Reisen as an up-to-date family holiday organiser and illustrate the life and brand feel.


- Spain, Greece and Turkey will remain THE most popular destinations of Austrian holiday-makers in 2013
- It will be neck and neck for Turkey and Greece from Graz Airport
- Differentiation thanks to specialisation on products geared to particular target groups (Top Favourite, smartline, Sunprime)

"Thomas Cook is again offering seven destinations from Graz, including popular bathing holiday destinations such as Antalya or Palma de Mallorca", Mag. Gerhard Widmann, CEO of Graz Airport explains. "We are particularly happy to see the prime focus on Greece, as Corfu, Heraklion and Rhodes are the most popular bathing resorts of Styrian holiday-makers."
He added that the summer flight plan includes about 50 destinations. "And as in the past few years, Thomas Cook Austria is of course one of the most important partners here."

Other summer holiday destinations of Thomas Cook include Ibiza, Hurghada and Tenerife; and new in the Thomas Cook programme for the summer 2013: flights from Graz to the island of Santorini.

Greece on the upswing
While booking was rather cautious in 2012, the demand for Greece is currently exploding. We have already achieved a 2-digit increase for Greek destinations. In addition to the classic Greece holiday provisions, Neckermann Austria has launched a new folder "Ellada – Griechenlands Vielfalt erleben" (Discover the diversity of Greece).
The catalogue includes 11 Greek destinations: Samos, Lesbos, Western Peloponnese, Southern Peloponnese, Karpathos, Volos, Chios, Thasos, Skiathos, Kefalonia and Zakynthos – with direct flights from Graz to Zakynthos. 120 two to five-star hotels are available for booking. From relaxed family holidays to peaceful holidays for best agers – anybody will find what their heart desires for the most beautiful time of the year.

Exclusive Top Favourite hotels with add-on benefits guaranteed
Thomas Cook introduced a new category in its catalogues, the favourite and top-favourite hotels as they are called. In Austria, the 136 TOP-favourite hotels are available for booking exclusively from Neckermann Reisen, Thomas Cook and Öger Tours. There are TOP-favourite hotels of all categories. What they all have in common is the high satisfaction rate of their guests. All guests of these hotels will receive guaranteed add-on services, such as WLAN, direct transfer or comfortable check-out.

Budget hotels on the raise
Over the past few years, budget hotels have been enjoying increasing popularity, and this trend continues. In response, Neckermann Reisen is offering its first budget brand in a franchise concept of holiday hotels world-wide, and markets the new smartline brand under the motto "Bunter Urlaub für wenig Geld" (Rich diversity at favourable rates). Relying on surveys, Thomas Cook estimates that the potential in Germany is 10 million holiday-makers and about 1 million Austrian guests.
Trendy design elements in the public areas and smartline ice-cream vans ensure uniqueness and brand recognition of the hotels. Add to that high cleanliness standards and outstanding friendliness. 22 smartline hotels in eight popular beach resorts (Mallorca, Tenerife, Antalya, Crete, Cos, Rhodes, Hurghada and Burgas) offer everything expected from a holiday hotel – pool, restaurant, beaches nearby at favourable rates.
The maximum price level – depending on resort – ranges between 25 and 40 euros per day.

New target group: Grown-ups w/o kids
Thomas Cook market research data show that it is above holiday-makers between 36 and 50 years of age – and here predominately women – who wish for holidays without kids. A kid-free zone for a few days. Thomas Cook responds to this trend with the Sunprime Resorts in its current summer catalogues; these hotels offer "holidays for grown-ups" and have enjoyed a highly successful launch in Scandinavia already. These six adults-only hotels promise time to enjoy life with your partner, offer discreet entertainment and outstanding catering concepts. Exclusive spa areas and free sun-lounger and towel service on top. These resorts cannot be booked for children under the age of 16.

Price level remains stable
The price level remains virtually stable in summer 2013. The development is supported by attractive early-bird offers that were even improved on average, so that up to 30 percent of the hotel price can be saved during peak holiday times. Families, in particular, will profit from more favourable prices in 2013 that have become possible through a change in the purchasing strategy. The fixed children's rates were also brought down by three percent.

Luxury travel boom continues
While price may play a decisive role in next to all holiday travel, it is more or less ignored in the luxury segment. Market research data of Thomas Cook show that price plays only a marginal role for 75% of luxury travellers. The main target groups are best agers, couples and families. 55% of luxury travellers booking with Thomas Cook are best agers who attach great importance to traditional luxury brands, such as Leading Hotels of the World or Relais & Chateaux. 30% are younger couples earning good money (DINKS) who prefer trend design hotels in particular. Families are catching up, they account for a 15% share of this market already and will gain importance in 2013. Golfers and honeymooners are also part of the luxury holiday-makers group. The most decisive criteria for booking a luxury travel are privacy, first-rate service (e.g. butler service), time gained by arriving by private jet, for example, and the add-on services of the hotels.

For inquiries please contact:
Dr. Christa Riffert
CL Communications
Tuchlauben 11/37
A-1010 Wien
Phone: +43 (0)664 4015966

Thomas Cook Austria AG
Sabine Mäusel
Phone: +43 1 50202.516
Fax: +43 1 50202.370