Thomson Airways planning over 20 new routes for S16; growing 787 fleet serving new long-haul markets; Croatia growing, Tunisia on hold
According to UK CAA statistics, Thomson Airways transported almost 10.4 million passengers in 2014 (at an impressive 93% load factor), beaten among UK airlines only by easyJet (54.1 million at 88.8% load factor) and British Airways (39.6 million at 81.1% load factor). Part of the TUI Group, Thomson Airways was formed in late 2008 from the merger of Thomsonfly (formerly Britannia Airways) and First Choice Airways, after the merger in 2007 of TUI AG and First Choice Holidays plc to form TUI Travel.
UK CAA statistics also reveal that at the end of 2014 Thomson Airways had a fleet of 61 aircraft, comprising 35 737-800s, 15 757s, five 767s and six 787-8s. Daily aircraft utilisation across the whole fleet was 10.8 hours, but the 787s were achieving 16.0 hours. For comparison British Airways’ eight 787-8s were averaging 13.5 hours per day in 2014. Annual passenger numbers have been declining modestly in the last five years, having peaked at 12.2 million in 2008 after the merger. Since 2005 the annual average load factor has been between 87% and 93%.
Seasonality profile remains virtually unchanged in recent years
Looking at monthly passengers the remarkable consistency of demand in recent years can clearly be seen. As a leisure airline demand peaks during the main summer holiday period in the UK (July and August). Compared with the August peak of almost 1.5 million passengers, in the off-peak winter months the airline carries around one-third of that figure.
London Gatwick and Manchester are leading UK bases
Analysis of OAG schedule data for the first week in August shows that the airline’s two biggest UK airports in terms of weekly departures are London Gatwick and Manchester. Both of these airports have more than twice as many weekly departures as the next busiest airport for the airline, Birmingham.
Palma de Mallorca and Dalaman in Turkey are top summer destinations
In terms of leading destinations (as measured by weekly departures) Palma de Mallorca is the clear winner with almost twice as many flights as the next airport, Dalaman in Turkey. Spanish destinations (shown in bright green) fill five of the top 10 places in this chart, while Greek destinations account for five of the top 15. Still listed in the top 15 based on OAG data is Enfidha in Tunisia. However, the airline is currently not operating any flights to the country and recently announced in a press release that it has extended the cancellation of all outbound flights to Tunisia up to and including 22 March 2016.
In terms of country markets Spain (311 weekly departures) leads Greece (165), Turkey (79), Cyprus (46) and Egypt (36). Compared with last summer the biggest growth has come on routes to Croatia, which has seen a near doubling of flights and the launch of several new routes to Dubrovnik, Pula and Split.
24 new routes already announced for summer 2016
Back in April it was announced that Thomson Airways’ summer 2016 programme would see the launch of 24 new routes. These include the airline’s first long-haul flights from London Stansted (to Cancún and Orlando Sanford), five new routes from Birmingham (to Agadir, Alghero, Izmir, Punta Cana and Split), three new routes from Bristol (to Catania, Hurghada and Sal), and two new routes from Doncaster Sheffield (to Heraklion and Larnaca).