Thomson Airways

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Thomson Airways
Thomson Holidays logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1962[2]
as Britannia Airways
Commenced operations 1 November 2008
as Thomson Airways
AOC # 294
Operating bases
Alliance TUI Airlines
Fleet size 50
Destinations 96
Parent company TUI Group
Headquarters Registered office: Crawley
Head office: Luton[3][4]
Key people John Murphy Managing director[5]

Thomson Airways Limited is the world's largest charter airline, offering scheduled and charter flights from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland to destinations in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. The airline carried 10.5 million passengers in 2013, making it the third-largest UK airline by total passengers, after EasyJet and British Airways.[6]

The airline was formed following the merger of the travel division of TUI AG and First Choice Holidays plc in September 2007 to form TUI Travel. The two companies' respective airlines, Thomsonfly and First Choice Airways, were merged under the former's Air Operator's Certificate in May 2008, and were rebranded as Thomson Airways on 1 November 2008. TUI Travel merged with TUI AG to form TUI Group in December 2014.

Due to the merger and formation of the TUI Group, all of the groups airlines are expected to be rebranded under the new TUI Group brand starting from 2015.[7] However Fritz Joussen has stated that this rebrand could take five to ten years to complete.[8]

The registered office is at the TUI Travel House in Crawley, West Sussex but its head office is located in Wigmore House in Luton, Bedfordshire.[9] Thomson Airways Limited holds a United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Type A Operating Licence permitting it to carry passengers, cargo and mail on aircraft with 20 or more seats.[10]


Thomson Airways has its origins in several predecessor airlines. Euravia, an airline which was founded in January 1962[2] was renamed Britannia Airways in December 1964.[11] Orion Airways, founded in 1979 by Horizon Holidays and later owned by the large brewing firm Bass Brewery and InterContinental Hotels Group, was sold and merged into Britannia Airways in 1989. Britannia Airways was rebranded as Thomsonfly in May 2005.[12] Finally, Air 2000 was founded in 1987, and which integrated the operations of Leisure International Airways in 1998, became First Choice Airways in 2004.

Thomsonfly and First Choice Airways merged following the merger of the travel division of TUI AG and First Choice Holidays PLC in September 2007. All flights operated under the Thomsonfly CAA Air Operator's Certificate from 1 May 2008.[citation needed] The Thomson Airways brand was launched for the combined airline on 1 November 2008,[13] which became the world's largest charter airline.

The new brand retained the Thomsonfly colour scheme, and aircraft in the fleet were gradually repainted. Several First Choice Airways aircraft remained in the First Choice livery as they were due to be phased out of service. A new livery, named the "dreamliner" livery to coincide with the delivery of the Boeing 787 in 2013, was introduced in May 2012.

Thomson Airways became the first UK airline to take delivery of the Boeing 787, receiving the first aircraft in May 2013.[14] Passenger services with the aircraft began on 21 June 2013 with a flight between London Gatwick and Menorca.[15] Also in 2013, the parent group TUI Travel ordered 60 Boeing 737 MAX for delivery to group airlines.[16]

Thomson Airways carried 10.5 million passengers during 2013, a 1.4% reduction compared with 2012.[6]

On 13 May 2015, it was announced by the TUI Group that all five of TUI's airline subsidiaries will be named TUI, whilst keeping their separate Air Operators Certificate, taking over three years to complete. Thomson will be the last airline to be completed around 2018.[17]

Corporate affairs[edit]

Head office[edit]

Wigmore House, the head office of Thomson Airways near Luton

The airline's head office is in the Wigmore House near Luton, Bedfordshire.[18] The 41,250-square-foot (3,832 m2) facility is adjacent to Luton Airport and is 33 miles (53 km) north of London.[19]


Thomson Airways' largest base is at London-Gatwick, closely followed by Manchester with its third largest at Birmingham. Further aircraft are based at thirteen other UK airports. By June 2015, Belfast-International, Bournemouth, Edinburgh, Exeter and Leeds/Bradford are all served by a single based aircraft. Bases with two aircraft are at Cardiff, Doncaster Sheffield, Glasgow and London-Stansted whilst Bristol, East Midlands, London-Luton and Newcastle all have three. Some of these bases have additional aircraft through certain parts of the week to service long-haul flights.


Most scheduled flights operated by Thomson Airways are on behalf of tour operators. Certain seat contingents on these flights can be directly purchased. The airline offers a wide range of flights to holiday destinations at the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean from a total of 20 airports across the United Kingdom. Additionally, seasonal charter routes are served.


Thomson Airways Boeing 737-800
Boeing 757 at Manchester Airport
Thomson Airways Boeing 787-8

As of December 2015, the Thomson Airways fleet consists of the following aircraft.[20]

Thomson Airways fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers
P E Total
Boeing 737-800 25 189 189
Boeing 737-8 MAX TBA TBA TBA TBA
Boeing 737-9 MAX TBA TBA TBA TBA
Boeing 757-200 14 221
Boeing 767-300ER 2 31
Boeing 787-8 9 47 253 300
Boeing 787-9 4 63 282 345
Total 50 4

Cabins and service[edit]


Seating: On short-haul and mid-haul flights Thomson Airways have a minimum 28"-30" seat pitch on all standard seats. A limited number of extra space/legroom seats can be purchased before travelling through the 'MyThomson' web page or through a booked tour operator.

Service: "the eatery" is the name of the onboard menu. There is a wide range of hot and cold drinks, sweet and savoury snacks and hot food items to purchase.

Inflight is the Thomson Airways onboard magazine. It features travel articles, destination information and the full list of the onboard tax-free/duty-free shopping range. This include perfumes, gifts, collectables and last minute travel essentials (and tobacco and spirits on non-EU flights). On Cape Verde flights a complimentary light meal is offered to all customers alongside "the eatery" menu. Inflight Entertainment is offered on selected flights operated by the 787-8


Economy Club: On long-haul flights, the Economy Cabin (Economy Club) has a minimum 32" seat pitch on comfortable leather seats. A personal 7" widescreen TV (9" on 787 Dreamliner aircraft) with audio/visual on-demand in-flight entertainment is available as standard. Headphones are provided or passengers can use their own. A complimentary 3-course hot meal service and a snack before landing is offered to all customers on all Thomson Airways long-haul flights. A full complimentary bar service (excluding Champagne) is offered to all customers booked via a TUI Group company. Pillows and blankets are provided on all night flights.

Premium Club: The Premium Economy Cabin (Premium Club) located at the front of the 767 and 787 aircraft have a 36"-38" seat pitch. It features wider leather seats with an increased recline and a larger personal 9" widescreen TV - Audio/visual on-demand entertainment is standard. Noise cancelling headphones are provided along with an amenity kit. Premium Club customers receive an upgraded 4-course main meal dining experience with usually a hot snack before arrival. Complimentary drinks are available throughout the flight. A duvet and pillow will be available on night flights.[21]

The Thomson Airways Magazine in-flight is available to all customers in the seat pocket with a range of articles and including the onboard Tax-free/Duty-free shopping range. In addition, "in-flight guide" is also available on long-haul flights detailing the entertainment and flight amenities available on board.


Year Total passengers Total flights Load factor Passenger Change (YoY)
2005* 15,501,616 82,913 88.6%
2006* 15,134,699 83,556 88.4% Decrease02.4%
2007* 15,018,973 82,360 89.1% Decrease00.8%
2008 12,234,618 65,348 91.1% Decrease018.5%
2009 11,238,774 59,195 90.2% Decrease08.1%
2010 10,965,111 56,522 89.9% Decrease02.4%
2011 11,049,288 57,713 89.3% Increase00.8%
2012 10,703,338 54,372 92.0% Decrease03.1%
2013 10,548,952 54,926 92.4% Decrease01.4%
2014 10,366,959 54,257 93.0% Decrease01.7%
* Data for 2005 to 2007 includes First Choice Airways
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority


  • Most Punctual UK Charter Airline – Summer 2009,[22] Summer 2010,[23] Summer 2011,[24] Summer 2012,[25] Summer 2013[26] and Summer 2014 [27]
  • Winner of a Mercury Award for Skills Development in 2010[28]


  1. ^ "IATA - Airline and Airport Code Search". Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Euravia (London) Ltd
  3. ^ Thomson Airways CASA AOC
  4. ^ UK CAA aircraft ownership details
  5. ^ Company press release quoting MD
  6. ^ a b c "UK Airline Statistics | Data | Economic Regulation". UK CAA. 27 April 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2015. 
  7. ^ Thomson Merger
  8. ^ Tui outlines plan for global rebrand
  9. ^ "Booking Conditions." Thomson Airways. Retrieved on 4 February 2011."Both Thomson Airways and TUI UK Limited have their Registered Office at TUI Travel House, Crawley Business Quarter, Fleming Way, Crawley RH10 9QL[...]"
  10. ^ CAA operating licence
  11. ^ Flight International article published 17 December 1964
  12. ^ Company news archive
  13. ^ New Thomson Airways brand launched
  14. ^ "Boeing Delivers Thomson Airways' First 787 Dreamliner". Manchester, UK: Boeing UK. 31 May 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  15. ^ "London Gatwick welcomes first 'hub-busting' Dreamliner (> Media Centre > News)". Gatwick Airport. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  16. ^ TUI shareholders approve 737 Max order
  17. ^ TUI Rebrand
  18. ^ "GINFO Search Results". Civil Aviation Authority. 30 June 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  19. ^ "Wigmore House". Duncan-Welch & Co. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  20. ^ "United Kingdom Civil Aircraft Register". Civil Aviation Authority. 19 December 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2015. 
  21. ^ Long Haul Holidays Designed for You | Book online with Thomson
  22. ^ – Summer 2009 UK Charter Airline Delays & Punctuality
  23. ^ – Summer 2010 UK Charter Airline Delays & Punctuality
  24. ^ – Summer 2011 UK Charter Airline Delays & Punctuality
  25. ^ – Summer 2012 UK Charter Airline Delays & Punctuality
  26. ^ – Summer 2013 UK Charter Airline Delays & Punctuality
  27. ^ – Summer 2014 UK Charter Airline Delays & Punctuality
  28. ^ Thomson Holidays -Thomson Airways wins pretigious Mercury award

External links[edit]

Media related to Thomson Airways at Wikimedia Commons