Thomas Cook Airlines
|Founded||31 March 2003|
|Company slogan||Let's Go!|
|Parent company||Thomas Cook Group|
|Key people||Christoph Debus, MD
Cor Vrieswijk, Head of Operations
Thomas Cook Airlines (UK) Limited, is a British charter airline based in Manchester, England. It serves leisure destinations worldwide from its main bases at Manchester and London Gatwick Airport. It also operates services from eight other bases around the United Kingdom.
Thomas Cook Airlines is part of the airline division of the Thomas Cook Group, which consists of several sister airlines, all of which have a joint fleet management: Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium, Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia and German based Condor. The airline holds a United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority Type A Operating Licence, permitting it to carry passengers, cargo and mail on aircraft with 20 or more seats.
Conception and birth
In the aftermath of the First World War, Thomas Cook & Son is the first travel agent to advertise public trips by aeroplane (Easter 1919). The firm becomes a passenger agent for the principal air companies and is soon selling tickets (costing 30 guineas – equivalent to over £1000 today) for return flights from London to Paris or Brussels.
Thomas Cook & Son organise the world’s first personally-conducted tour by aeroplane. A group of six people (four passengers, a Thomas Cook representative and a pilot) fly from New York to Chicago for the Tunney-Dempsey world heavyweight boxing contest. The price of the package – comprising return flights with inflight meal, first-class accommodation in Chicago and a ringside seat for the fight – is $575.00 (equivalent to over £6000 today).
Holidays by air on specially chartered aircraft to the French Riviera are included in Thomas Cook’s summer brochure for the first time.
Thomas Cook acquires its first airline, Airworld, when it purchases UK tour operator Sunworld.
The Flying Colours Leisure Group is acquired by Airworld parent Sunworld (itself a subsidiary of Thomas Cook) in June 1998. The two airlines (Flying Colours and Airworld) merge at the end of the 1998 summer season under the Flying Colours name.
JMC Airlines is launched on 1 September 1999 through the merger of Flying Colours and Caledonian Airways (the latter airline having been acquired by Thomas Cook when it took control of Carlson Leisure Group’s UK interests earlier in the year).
Creation of Thomas Cook Airlines
The original Thomas Cook Airlines was established on 1 September 1999 and started operations on 27 March 2000. It was created as JMC Airlines through the merger of Flying Colours and Caledonian Airways, following the integration of the Carlson Leisure group with Thomas Cook & Son, which brought both airlines under common ownership in October 1999. Previously in 1998. Flying Colours was also integrated by Airworld Aviation Ltd into the airline. JMC Airlines was renamed as Thomas Cook Airlines UK on 31 March 2003.
Following the merger between Thomas Cook AG and MyTravel Group PLC to form Thomas Cook Group plc in June 2007, Thomas Cook Airlines was formed on 30 March 2008 by the merger of Thomas Cook Airlines UK Ltd and MyTravel Airways. The airline commenced operations in time for the summer 2008 season, with a fleet of Airbus A320, A321 and A330 aircraft along with Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft.
In 2013, Thomas Cook Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium and Condor merged into a single operating segment of the Thomas Cook Group. Thomas Cook Airlines carried around six million passengers during 2014, a slight reduction compared with 2013.
Thomas Cook Airlines operates flights to destinations in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, North America and Asia. The airline also operates worldwide charter flights from the United Kingdom for a number of tour operators; however, Thomas Cook Tour Operations is the main user of the airline. The airline also provides direct customer bookings on a seat only basis, through their own website.
As of May 2015, Thomas Cook Airlines have begun flights to and from New York and Las Vegas, from Manchester and in 2016 start flights to Boston and Los Angeles from Manchester.
As of June 2015, the Thomas Cook Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft:
|Airbus A321-200||17||5||—||220||220||To replace Boeing 757-200's|
|Boeing 757-200||5||—||—||235||235||To be retired by summer 2016, replaced by Airbus A321-200's|
The airline's first livery was a "eurowhite" design, with blue engines and a light blue underside, and the former Thomas Cook globe logo on the tail.
On 1 October 2013, the Thomas Cook Group introduced a new brand symbol, known as the "Sunny Heart". The new symbol replaced the globe logo on the airline's fleet, with a new livery of white, yellow and grey introduced.
Drinks and snacks can be purchased on board from the Café Cloud menu. In-flight meals, champagne and a selection of gifts can be pre-ordered at the time of booking a flight or on the 'My Booking' page of the airline's website. Since May 2012, the in-flight meals available on Thomas Cook flights are designed exclusively by celebrity chef James Martin. Passengers who have not pre-ordered a meal can buy a selection of meals from the cabin crew. In-flight entertainment is available on most services. The new delivery of A321 aircraft will feature state-of-the-art entertainment systems with a potential for onboard wi-fi capabilities. A copy of the Thomas Cook Airlines magazine Travel can be found in all seat pockets, alongside the Emporium brochure, which details all the tax/duty-free products Thomas Cook Airlines stock on board.
When flying long haul with Thomas Cook, in-flights meals are included for all passengers, regardless of which cabin class. This features a main meal with crackers and dessert and a further meal before landing. Drinks and snacks can be purchased on board from the Café Cloud menu. The in-flight meals available on board Thomas Cook flights are designed exclusively by celebrity chef James Martin. A copy of the Thomas Cook Airlines magazine Travel can be found in all seat pockets, alongside the Emporium brochure, which details all the tax/duty-free products Thomas Cook Airlines stock on board. Personal on-demand seat-back entertainment is available on the A330-200 aircraft.
- Premium Economy
From May 2015 a new Premium Economy product & service will be offered for departures from Manchester and Belfast, including priority check-in, priority boarding, fast track security, complimentary drinks, meals & snacks, newspapers, extra luggage, pillows, duvets and amenity kits. This cabin will have dedicated cabin crew and passengers will be seated in the front section of the aircraft in a newly designed cabin.
On long-haul flights, personal seatback entertainment is available on A330 aircraft in both cabins. Economy passengers receive 4 movies and 6 TV shows free. This can be upgraded to the full library, which is unlimited entertainment, for a small fee. This is purchasable from the cabin crew. Premium economy passengers receive complimentary access to the full library. Also, all passengers can listen to 24 radio channels and listen to thousands of songs.
On short-haul flights, entertainment is fitted in A321 aircraft, most B757-200 and B767 aircraft. Screens are fixed on the ceiling of the aircraft showing numerous films and TV shows depending on the length of the flight. B757-300 aircraft do not have an in-flight entertainment system fitted. Seats in most planes have a headphone socket and controls for 10 radio channels.
Thomas Cook are in the process of replacing their older B757-200 aircraft with new Airbus A321's. The cabin is yellow & grey to reflect the new corporate livery. The new and refurbished aircraft feature new slim design leather seats in a two tone grey design, with a blue smile and headrest with the new Sunny Heart logo. These seats feature a seat pocket in the upper part of the seat in front, which allows for increased legroom. Each seat has its own set of brochures such as Emporium, an entertainment guide and a safety card for that aircraft. The seat in front also has a foldable tray table and cup holder.
For Summer 2015, the A330 aircraft are being refurbished. This will include new seats, a new cabin and new services such as free meals and larger luggage allowances.
Premium Economy is only available on long haul A330 flights. This offers a 35" seat pitch with a 6" recline and a 20" width in a wider 2-3-2 cabin layout. Each seat has an in-arm tray table which can be folded in half to become a cup holder or for other small items. Also underneath each seat in front is a foot rest. Seats also have a personal screen either in the arm rest or seat in front.
Economy seats on long haul flights are set in a 2-4-2 configuration and premium economy is set in a 2-3-2 configuration. Upgrading to premium features added extras such as increased width and comfier seats. Economy and premium economy both have two tone grey seats with a yellow smile. Also, both classes have leather headrests and fabric seats for increased comfort. 2 of 6 A330 aircraft are set in an all economy configuration consisting of seats the same as the A321 but with adjustable headrests and set in 2-4-2. The all economy aircraft operate out of London Gatwick and Glasgow. The 2 cabin aircraft operate out of Manchester and Belfast.
|Year||Total passengers||Total flights||Load factor||Passenger Change YoY|
|* Data for 2005 to 2007 includes MyTravel Airways
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority 
- Silver Award - Most Environmentally Responsible Airline 2008 
- Runner-Up UK Charter Airline for Punctuality - Summer 2006
- FlightOnTime.info Most Punctual UK Charter Airline - Summer 2002 & Summer 2003
- FlightOnTime.info Most Punctual UK Charter Airline - Winter 2002/03, Winter 2003/04, Winter 2008/09 & Winter 2009/10
- Best Airline Website – UK Travelmole Web Awards 2015 
- Thomas Cook flight route map
- Operating Licence
- Name change to Thomas Cook Airlines
- "UK Airline Statistics | Data | Economic Regulation". UK CAA. 2015-04-27. Retrieved 2015-04-27.
- "GINFO Search Results Summary". CAA. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
- "British Travel Awards". British Travel Awards. 11 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-11.[dead link]
Media related to Thomas Cook Airlines at Wikimedia Commons