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 61
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, often referred to as Thomson, 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 10.6 million passengers in 2015, 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 group's 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.


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.[10] 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.[11] 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,[12] 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 "Dynamic Wave" (which will also be applied on Thomson Cruises ships),[13] 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 10.6 million passengers during 2015, a 2.4% increase compared with 2014.[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 2017.[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 facility is adjacent to Luton Airport.[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. The airline offers flights to destinations around the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean from 19 airports in the United Kingdom. Additionally, seasonal charter routes are served.


As of October 2016, the Thomson Airways fleet consists of the following aircraft.[20]

Thomson Airways fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
P Y Total
Boeing 737-800 33 189 189[21]
Boeing 757-200 14 233 233[22] To be phased out by 2021[23]
Boeing 767-300ER 1 31 256 287[24]
3 328 328[25]
Boeing 787-8 9 47 241 288[26]
Boeing 787-9 1 3 63 282 345 Deliveries from 2016 to 2019
Total 61 3

TUI has 50 737-8 MAX's and 20 737-9 MAX's on order for the group, some of these will be used for the airline to modernise the fleet and replace older aircraft mainly the 757's in the fleet. Thomson Airways is due to receive 47 of these aircraft by 2020.[27] The deliveries of the new aircraft will commence in 2018.


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%
2015 10,611,175 53,869 93.8% Increase02.4%
* Data for 2005 to 2007 includes First Choice Airways
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority [6]


  • Most Punctual UK Charter Airline – Summer 2009,[28] Summer 2010,[29] Summer 2011,[30] Summer 2012,[31] Summer 2013,[32] Summer 2014 [33] and Summer 2015 [34]
  • Winner of a Mercury Award for Skills Development in 2010[35]


  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 Data". UK Civil Aviation Authority. 1 June 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  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. ^ Flight International article published 17 December 1964
  11. ^ Company news archive
  12. ^ New Thomson Airways brand launched
  13. ^ "THOMSON CRUISES UNVEILS PLANS FOR NEW SHIP DISCOVERY - TUITravel Media Centre - Thomson". TUITravel Media Centre - Thomson. 2015-11-13. Retrieved 2016-05-08. 
  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. 18 July 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Family booths and couple pods are the future of holiday flying says Thomson Airways as it unveils plans for childfree zones on flights". Retrieved 2016-08-01. 
  28. ^ – Summer 2009 UK Charter Airline Delays & Punctuality
  29. ^ – Summer 2010 UK Charter Airline Delays & Punctuality
  30. ^ – Summer 2011 UK Charter Airline Delays & Punctuality
  31. ^ – Summer 2012 UK Charter Airline Delays & Punctuality
  32. ^ – Summer 2013 UK Charter Airline Delays & Punctuality
  33. ^ – Summer 2014 UK Charter Airline Delays & Punctuality
  34. ^ – Summer 2015 UK Charter Airline Delays & Punctuality
  35. ^ Thomson Holidays -Thomson Airways wins pretigious Mercury award

External links[edit]

Media related to Thomson Airways at Wikimedia Commons