The attack on Ukraine and the fighting that has been going on for days now leave me, like everyone I have spoken to over the past few days, stunned.
When I think of the people in Ukraine, the men and women who are defending their country, and the families who are now fleeing their homeland, I can hardly imagine the suffering.
A war of aggression in the middle of Europe, an attack on a sovereign country, on innocent Europeans – all this was hardly imaginable after the end of the Cold War and in the era of dialogue and cooperation. As Europeans, we have perhaps taken the right to live in peace and self-determination too much for granted. Although it gives us hope that the free world is showing unity, worries about further developments now predominate.
The question of how the war will affect our business is certainly not the first priority, but of course the question is legitimate and important for us. We are monitoring the developments intensively in order to assess possible consequences and to be able to put plans into place if necessary. Let me share some thoughts with you on this.
We ourselves are no longer represented with companies in Russia and Ukraine. As you know, we sold our shareholdings in the tour operators in Russia and Ukraine some time ago. However, in order to ensure the safety of our customers, we will make or have already made adjustments in some areas, such as flight routes and cruise destinations. We are in contact with the employees of service providers in Ukraine who work for us and are supporting them as best we can to keep themselves and their families safe. TUI Cruises is also intensively looking after crew members from Ukraine who are employed on board our fleet of ships.
Some of you have also asked me about our largest single shareholder Alexey Mordashov and our position with him. Mr Mordashov has been a TUI shareholder for around 15 years and has held about a third of our company since he propped it up during the Corona crisis. Two thirds of our shareholders are from Germany, the EU, the UK, the US or are funds. Mr Mordashov is also one of 20 representatives on the Supervisory Board elected by shareholders at the Annual General Meeting. However, our company is run by the Executive Board, like any German public limited company, and not by the shareholders or the Supervisory Board. We therefore assume that any restrictions or sanctions against Mr Mordashov will not have any lasting negative consequences for us as a company.
The coming days and weeks will show how relations between Russia and the EU will continue to develop – and how economic cooperation between Russia and the West will develop in the future. A solution is not in our hands. This is the time of the governments and the community of states.
One thing is clear: we will be true to our values and show our position. Like hardly any other sector, tourism stands for international understanding and peaceful exchange across borders and cultures – we feel particularly committed to this.
Thank you that so many of you show your attitude in your private and professional lives and support the people in Ukraine and those fleeing the country with aid and donations!
Let’s all hope that humanity and reason will prevail and peace will return to Europe.