Thomson Airways Mulls Hawaii, Perth Routes as 787 Extends ReachKari Lundgren
Thomson Airways Ltd. may add flights to locations as far flung as Hawaii and Perth, Australia, as the U.K. tour operator swaps Boeing Co. 767s for the planemaker’s latest 787 Dreamliners able to fly 2,000 nautical miles further.
Thomson, Britain’s No. 3 mainline carrier by passengers, took delivery of the first of eight 787s in May as it retires nine 767-300ERs. The Dreamliner can fly up to 8,200 nautical miles, versus 5,990 for the 767 model, Boeing’s website says.
“Hawaii, South Africa -- it can even get to Perth if you fly in the right way with the right number of people,” Jeremy Ellis, U.K. and Ireland marketing director for Thomson parent TUI Travel Plc, said in an interview on its first 787 flight to Menorca, Spain. “All of these destinations we’re considering.”
Thomson’s firm plans for the aircraft feature routes from Britain’s Manchester, London Gatwick, Glasgow and East Midlands airports to Florida and Cancun, Mexico -- the first flights outside Europe, commencing July 8 -- together with Cuba, Kenya and Thailand. Destinations to be added in 2014 include the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius and Puerta Vallerta in Mexico.
The 787 is also central to brand-modernization plans, with Tui Travel having spent about 5.5 million pounds ($8.5 million) on 787-specific marketing from the third quarter last year.
“The Dreamliner is very important in differentiating our long-haul holidays,” said David Burling, TUI Travel’s managing director for the U.K. and Ireland. “The flight is a big part of a long-haul holiday and with the state-of the art comfort and well-being features on this aircraft people will arrive more refreshed and relaxed than on the existing aircraft.”
The tour operator is also looking to upgrade its hotel and cruise offers, as well as its sales technology, he said.
Luton, England-based Thomson, founded in 1962 and known to generations of vacationing Britons as Britannia before a name change in 2005, had planned to commence commercial Dreamliner flights in May but was forced to retain the 767s when battery glitches grounded the global 787 fleet.
The delay also meant Thomson, which carried 5.5 million people last year, had to refund a 20-pound round-trip supplement charged to passengers eager to fly on the new jet.
“We’re in discussions with Boeing around that,” Burling said in an interview without specifying how much the delay cost the airline. “We will be adequately compensated.”
TUI Travel has a fleet of about 140 aircraft comprised mainly of Boeing models, according to its website, the majority single-aisle, though French long-haul arm Corsair International operates a mix of wide-body Airbus SAS A330s and 747 jumbos.
The Crawley, England-based company’s biggest shareholder is German travel and logistics group TUI AG, which holds a 54.48 percent stake.