It was announced just prior to the holiday season that Dietmar Gunz has turned over the leadership of FTI—it is the third-largest operator in Germany and Europe—to Ralph Schiller. The move concluded a hectic year for the operator, and for the tourism industry in Germany: last spring, Egyptian billionaire Samih Sawiris acquired the company by purchasing Gunz’s shares in the FTI Group, an action which made Sawiris the group’s sole owner. Sawiris made the move as FTI, like other German operators, faced financial problems in the wake of the impact of the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis. Sawiris had previously acquired 30 percent of the group’s shares in 2014.
Several months after the acquisition, in addition to cutting jobs in all areas of its operation, the Munich-based operator closed down the following: LAL Sprachreisen, a language vacation specialist; FTI Cruises; the Fly.de flight sales online operations; and its Touristic 24 call center.
Ralph Schiller joined the management of the FTI Group in 2011 as group managing director of departments such as distribution/sales, customer service, operation & destination support, supply chain management, marketing and corporate communications. He was also responsible for the foreign subsidiaries of the group. A trained travel agent, Schiller began his career as office manager of a travel agency. In 1990, he became managing partner at Reiseland GmbH & Co. KG in 1990, was appointed to the management of Otto Freizeit Touristik GmbH in 2004 and was responsible for marketing and sales in the management of Rewe Touristik GmbH.
Samih Sawiris comes from a multi-billion-dollar Egyptian entrepreneurial family. His Orascom Development Holding develops integrated holiday resorts such as El Gouna and Taba Heights in Egypt, Salalah in Oman or Andermatt in Switzerland. It also has residential properties in Egypt. Overall, the group manages more than 30 hotels with over 7,000 rooms.
As for Dietmar Gunz, his professional life has been the stuff seen often among leaders in the travel and tourism industry. An industrious and entrepreneurial spirit, he founded FTI in 1981 as a language travel specialist. For more on the company’s history, visit: https://www.fti-group.com/en/history.