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The company said it is now exploring whether or not to cut capacity for the rest of its winter programme, having already made a loss of £2.1 billion in the year to the end of September. 

In the fourth quarter, revenues rebounded thanks to the success of the vaccination programme. TUI says the first quarter of the new financial year is 93% booked, though this is still lower than levels seen pre-pandemic. 

Following the news of the new omicron coronavirus variant, shares dropped by as much as 5% before recovering slightly as investor concern eased.

We had a successful summer season after the relaunch. The overarching trends are intact. TUI's operating business is back and has recovered significantly in the last financial quarter of 2021,” chief executive Fritz Joussen said in TUI’s full-year report.

The first financial quarter of 2022 is already almost fully booked at 93 per cent. This means that we are currently at 69 per cent of the pre-crisis level capacities in the current quarter. We expect summer 2022 and the peak travel season to return to booking levels similar to pre-Corona 2019.”

The emergence of the omicron variant hit the travel sector hard, with travel restrictions and outright bans quickly implemented by governments around the globe. 

Speaking to CNN about the new strain, White House chief medical advisor Dr Anthony Fauci said, “although it’s too early to make any definitive statements about it, thus far it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it.” 

Boeing ended 3.7% higher, while American Airlines and United Airlines saw an increase of approximately 8%. Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean were up 9.5% and online travel agency Expedia rose by 6.7%

While the situation currently appears better than first thought, officials from the World Health Organization have warned against reading too much into the data from cases in South Africa, saying that it is still too soon to sufficiently understand the severity of illness caused by the omicron strain. 

According to Nationwide’s latest house price index, annual house price growth was strong in November at 10%, a figure that slightly exceeds the 9.9% recorded in October. Month-on-month, prices were up 0.9%, taking into account seasonal effects.

While in October the average house price in the UK sat at $250,311, this figure rose to £252,687 in November. 

So far in 2021, the number of housing transactions has already exceeded the number recorded in 2020. The number of mortgage approvals in October sat above the monthly average for 2019. However, there have already been signs of activity in the housing market slowing again. In October, for example, the number of property transactions was down nearly 30% year-on-year.  

It also remains unclear what impact the Omicron variant will have on the country’s economy. Although November saw consumer confidence stabilise, sentiment is still significantly below the levels seen throughout the summer.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, founder of Punch Taverns Hugh Osmond said, “We are seeing that some of the people in large organisations who organise bigger events are taking the cautious view because I guess they feel some overriding responsibility. We are not seeing that in young people.”

Social interaction is, after food and water, the most important thing for a human being’s mental health.”

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was no need for people to cancel upcoming parties and gatherings. However, Johnson’s statement came just hours after the UK’s most senior health officials urged people to limit their social interactions. 

Christmas is a vital period for hospitality venues, with many relying on generating enough profit throughout the festive season to support them through the traditionally quieter months. The loss of two festive seasons in a row would have a detrimental impact on many businesses in the UK. 

In London, the FTSE 100 dropped by as much as 1%, while the French CAC fell by 1.4% and the German DAX was 1.2% lower. 

The drop comes as the CEO of drugmaker Moderna, Stephane Bancel, told the Financial Times that he fears that current coronavirus vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron strain

Bancel said, “There is no world, I think, where the effectiveness is the same level . . . we had with the Delta variant.

I think it’s going to be a material drop. I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to . . . are like, ‘This is not going to be good’.”

In addition to Bancel’s warning, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has also said that Omicron poses a “very high” global risk. However, both BioNTech and Pfizer have suggested that a new vaccine could be modified relatively quickly if the need should arise. 

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