|Ceased operations||1 November 2008 (merged with First Choice Airways to form Thomson Airways)|
London Gatwick Airport
|Company slogan||Don't just travel, travel with a smile|
|Parent company||TUI Travel PLC|
|Headquarters||Luton, United Kingdom|
|Key people||Chris Browne MD)
Thomsonfly was a British airline, which had been known as Britannia Airways. Thomsonfly was the first stage of TUI AG's plans to expand its business within TUI UK prior to September 2007. After TUI UK merged with First Choice Holidays in September 2007, it became part of TUI Travel PLC. The new holiday company continued with both in-house airlines (Thomsonfly and First Choice Airways) through Winter 2007 and Summer 2008 until the two were merged on 1 November 2008 as Thomson Airways.
Thomsonfly was the largest charter airline in the world, and also operated scheduled services to 20 European cities. The airline had several bases including Birmingham, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Coventry, Glasgow, Liverpool, London Gatwick, Belfast, London Luton, Manchester, Newcastle and Doncaster-Sheffield.
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Thomsonfly traces its roots to its parent airline, Britannia Airways, founded by Ted Langton. The airline began as Euravia in 1962. The name was changed to Britannia Airways and remained until December 2004. Britannia grew rapidly when it acquired Boeing 737-200 aircraft, and was the European launch customer for the Boeing 767 and then moved to an all-Boeing 767 and 757 fleet in the mid-1990s, with a total fleet of 45 aircraft by 2004.
Thomson Holidays subsequently embraced a web-oriented rebranding and used the Thomsonfly name to include all of the UK flying operations, with the larger Britannia Airways rebranded as Thomsonfly in 2005.
Scheduled operations began on 31 March 2004 with four Boeing 737-500 aircraft, from a new passenger terminal at Coventry Airport. The airline became involved in controversy when it took over ownership of the airport lease. A number of local residents and Warwick District Council mounted a campaign against regular passenger flights from the airport, which had been used for both passenger and freight aircraft. The planning case was contentious and lengthy, and Thomsonfly continued to operate from Coventry awaiting the outcome of the case. Planning permission was granted for a larger passenger terminal and the ownership of the lease has passed to CAFCO, an airport and property development company with no links to TUI.
On 28 April 2005, Thomsonfly became the first airline to fly from Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield. Thomsonfly was also the first airline to operate direct long haul services from the airport. The airline remains the dominant carrier at Robin Hood Airport, Coventry Airport and Bournemouth Airport, where a base was also established.
Thomsonfly was the best on-time charter airline in 2004 as measured by the Air Transport Users' Council and also won the 'Travel Weekly' best UK charter airline award for 2004. The airline is part of TUI Airline Management (TAM).
In November 2008, Thomsonfly withdrew all flights operating from Coventry Airport, leaving the airport with no scheduled flights. This was due to financial conditions and that there had been repeated failed attempts to build a permanent terminal at the airport.
Merger with First Choice Airways
In March 2008, the tourism division of the airline's parent group TUI AG, merged with First Choice Holidays PLC, forming the new company TUI Travel. The company's head office is in Crawley, West Sussex although the UK and Ireland head office is in Luton.
From 1 May 2008, pilots flew both Thomsonfly and First Choice aircraft, but cabin crew remained on their original aircraft. Thomsonfly Limited changed its name to Thomson Airways Limited in October 2008 and the Thomsonfly operating certificate was changed to Thomson Airways with effect from 31 October 2008. On 1 November 2008, Thomsonfly and First Choice Airways both rebranded their operations as Thomson Airways. The two airlines were merged with a fleet of 75 aircraft.
In October 2008, the Thomsonfly fleet comprised:
|Boeing 737-300||10||148||Short and medium haul|
|Boeing 737-800||13||189||Short haul|
|Boeing 757-200||14||235||Short and medium haul|
|Boeing 767-200ER||2||290||Short, medium and long haul|
|Boeing 767-300ER||7||283||Short, medium and long haul|
It also operated Boeing 737-500s during operations, but they were retired before the merger.
- Best Leisure Airline 2011 (Skytrax Awards)
- AUC Crown Awards: Most Punctual Charter Carrier - Summer 2004
- Travel & Tourism Web Awards: Best Airline - 2004
- Telegraph Travel Awards: Best Charter Airline - 2003
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