TUI plans to close its stations at 18 airports across Germany and will replace 130 customer service jobs with digital services as part of its forthcoming restructuring.
Germany’s biggest tour operator announced late last week that it will shut down all its 18 airport branches in the first quarter of 2020. These service points assist customers with flight-related and other issues. “Where possible, other jobs will be sought for the 130 staff at the airport stations,” the company said.
The reason for the closures, according to TUI, is the strategy to further expand digital services for customers. “Continuing digitalisation and the changed booking and consumption patterns of customers demand more automated services and new ways of customer communications.”
In future, TUI will replace “decentral guest services at the airport” with “digital and phone services” that will be accessible 24/7 throughout the week. The company underlined that ticketless travel and apps are now “perfectly normal” for many customers. “What counts for customers is quality, the service promise and accessibility regardless of their location and the time of the day.”
Sales director Hubert Kluske emphasised: “Customer wishes and the use of digital services have changed radically over the last decade. Many processes that took place at the airport in the past are today undertaken at home before the trip. Today advice and sales of last-minute and special offers occur throughout the year in travel agencies and online.”
The airport closures are the first measure following the recent news that TUI Germany plans to cut 450 jobs to streamline operations as it seeks to digitalise more of its business. Most of these job losses are expected to be at the head office in Hanover, where the bulk of the German market leader’s 4,000 staff are employed.
Travel agencies criticised TUI’s plan, claiming it would hit older travellers in particular.