Chinese conglomerate eyes Thomas Cook takeover

Chinese international conglomerate and investment company, Fosun International Limited, is reportedly considering a takeover of ailing UK-based travel firm, Thomas Cook.

A joint venture between the two companies is already in operation and Fosun is now reported to have lodged a preliminary interest in buying Thomas Cook’s tour operating business, the UK’s oldest provider. Fosun already has a varied range of businesses in its portfolio, including a sporting interest with its ownership of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, an arts interest with its 24.5 percent share in Canada’s Cirque du Soleil theatre group, and an existing travel interest with its ownership of Club Med, a France-based luxury holiday company.

Fosun’s reported interest in the takeover, along with a number of other potential suitors, has seen a surge in Thomas Cook’s share value, which had been depressed of late as the company had struggled with its debts, compounded by a reduction in demand for package holidays and the effect of stiff online competition. Profit warnings posted in September and November 2018 had added to a fall of around 80 percent in the company’s share value over the past 12 months. It has recently announced plans to close 21 of its high street stores for a total of 320 job losses.

Meanwhile, Thomas Cook’s airline business was made the subject of a strategic review in February this year in an effort to create funds to invest in other aspects of its business portfolio. Thomas Cook is not the only travel company suffering financially at the moment, an industry-wide price war and a reluctance by customers to commit to major purchases due to economic uncertainty are issues that are also affecting most other large operators.

Thomas Cook Group Airline announces route expansion to Caribbean and Baltics

Thomas Cook Group Airline has said that it will expand its worldwide route network with two additional partner airlines – LIAT Air and Baltic.

With LIAT, the Caribbean specialist, customers can now fly from Manchester, London Gatwick or Frankfurt to five new destinations via existing Thomas Cook Group Airline destinations Antigua (ANU), Barbados (BGI) and Grenada (GND). With LIAT, new destinations on offer include Dominica (DOM), Guyana (OGL), St. Kitts and Nevis (SKB), Casties/St. Lucia (SLU) and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVD).

A new partner for Thomas Cook Airlines this winter season, Air Baltic offers flight services from London Gatwick to Tallinn (TLL) in Estonia and to Riga (RIX), the capital of Latvia.

Christoph Debus, Chief Airline Officer, Thomas Cook Group, said: ‘Our interline agreements provide our customers with convenient, coordinated connecting flights at competitive prices. The new Group Airline partnerships with LIAT and Air Baltic will allow us to offer seven new flight connections in seven countries in the Caribbean and Europe.’

Thomas Cook Airlines partners with several airlines around the world, including JetBlue, enabling onward flights via New York to Atlanta or Charlotte. Condor customers flying from Frankfurt also benefit from partners such as Alaska Airlines, as Condor offers connections to Hawaii via Anchorage in Alaska as well as via Seattle and Portland.

With its fleet of 101 aircraft, Thomas Cook Group Airline is flying to almost 70 destinations this winter season and through cooperation with a total of 52 partner airlines, the number increased to over 250 destinations in Europe, America, Africa, Asia and Australia. All UK flights can now be booked online at www.thomascookairlines.com and German flights via www.condor.com, it said.

Thomas Cook Airlines launch long haul economy light fares

Thomas Cook Airlines has announced the launch of ‘Economy Light’ fares on its long-haul routes.

The fares, available with Thomas Cook Airlines in the UK and Condor in Germany, are intended to be competitively priced flights under the scheme. Economy, Premium and Business (Condor only) fares will remain the same, the airline said. Meanwhile, the Economy Light fares from Manchester to New York would start from £299.99 return and Economy, £359.99 return.

Henry Sunley, Commercial Director at Thomas Cook Airlines, said, ‘We wanted to ensure that we provide fares that support the different needs of our customers, which can differ from trip to trip. Economy Light offers an option for those customers who want less amenities for their journey but want to benefit from fantastic cost savings.

‘They are the first fares that we have introduced on a pan-European scale across Thomas Cook Group Airline for our seat-only business.’

Economy Light fares include a 6kg cabin bag as well as a personal item (such as a handbag). Light fares do not include any hold baggage and check-in is online only. The on-board experience remains the same for all Economy customers, as people will receive signature James Martin meals and inflight entertainment.

Economy Light fares will be available online at thomascookairlines.com and through participating retailers for selected long-haul flights from November 1, 2018. Customers can expect fares such as Manchester to New York return from £299.99 return.

In addition, Thomas Cook Airlines in the UK has also introduced a ‘Flex’ option to its Economy fares for customers looking for more flexibility with their booking. Adding Flex turns a non-refundable fare into a flexible ticket that allows cancellations and removes penalties and charges for date and route changes.

The company said: ‘Economy Flex fares have been available with Condor for a number of years and are a great option for business and leisure travellers alike. We believe that our UK customers will welcome the chance to add extra flexibility to their trip if they wish to. With Economy Light and the option to add flexibility with Economy Flex, we are providing more choice than ever for our customers.’

Thomas Cook announces new city break and hotel-only offering with Expedia Group

Thomas Cook, the UK-based holiday company, has recently launched a new city break and hotel-only offering in the UK as part of its strategic alliance with Expedia Group.

Under the new plan, Thomas Cook will offer a wider range of holiday options at a lower cost of production using Expedia’s hotel supply. The new city-break and hotel-only areas on Thomas Cook’s website use Expedia Group’s technology to deliver hotel content and bookings, and increase the number of hotels available for customers to more than 100,000. Expedia’s advanced technology will help to increase booking on Thomas Cook’s own websites and expand its online business. In the year to date, Thomas Cook UK has increased online sales by 37 percent.

Peter Fankhauser, Chief Executive of Thomas Cook Group, said: ‘The launch of the Expedia Group alliance is an important step forward in our strategy for profitable growth. Plugging in the Expedia Group technology will transform our city break and hotel-only business, offering more choice for our customers and unlocking efficiencies across our organisation. The collaborative approach we’re taking to improve our complementary business for customers is already showing real benefits, and we look forward to harnessing the growth potential that Expedia Group brings.’

Ariane Gorin, President, Expedia Partner Solutions, said: ‘We are happy to team up with Thomas Cook to bring their customers a broader travel selection, aligning perfectly with our strategy to power industry partners. Expedia Group’s platform technology provides partners with optimized tools to help travellers search from the widest range of options when booking their holidays.’

The new city break and hotel-only bookings is part of Thomas Cook’s ‘complementary’ hotel business, offering customers a wide range of hotels options for second holidays and short breaks. This is in addition to Thomas Cook’s core holiday offering that focuses on its own brand hotels and selected partner hotels in sun and beach destinations.

This new scheme follows the launch of Thomas Cook’s hotel sourcing partnership with Webjet Limited in summer 2017. The Webjet partnership resulted in a 51-per-cent increase in overall bedbank bookings in the first half of 2018, Thomas Cook said.

Thomas Cook Airlines announces 10 additional flights a week from Bristol for Easter 2019

Thomas Cook Airlines has announced the addition of 10 flights a week for Easter 2019 from Bristol airport.

With the introduction of 10 additional flights a week from April 3, 2019 until the end of the month, Thomas Cook Airlines has added over 12,000 seats to destinations including Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Majorca. Tickets are now on sale via www.thomascookairlines.com.

Henry Sunley, Commercial Director at Thomas Cook Airlines, said: ‘This is a bigger Easter programme from Bristol than ever before, with our season traditionally ramping up from May 1. It’s great to be able to reward our customers who fly with us from Bristol airport with even more choice and we look forward to adding more destinations from Bristol in the near future.’

Nigel Scott, Business Development Director, Bristol Airport added: ‘This is exciting news. The increased capacity for next year builds on the strong growth we are experiencing with Thomas Cook from Bristol Airport in 2018. It provides even more choice for passengers when using their local airport to travel to a variety of exciting holiday destinations. We look forward to working with Thomas Cook on future route opportunities.’

For summer 2019, Thomas Cook Airlines flight-only services from Bristol airport, one-way in economy, include services to Turkey from £168.99, Gran Canaria from £203.99, Hurghada, Egypt from £325.99 and Lanzarote from £203.99. With the new services, Thomas Cook Airlines now flies to 25 sun and beach destinations from Bristol, while increasing its number of seats on sale at Easter by 40 percent in 2018.

Thomas Cook is also offering a package holiday from Bristol airport, flying with Thomas Cook Airlines one-way in economy with seven nights in Turkey from £2,035 for a family of four, or £508 per person including discounted prices for children. Stay will be arranged at the five-star Sentido Perissia in Side on an all-inclusive basis, departing from Bristol on 8 April 2019. Tickets can be booked at www.thomascook.com, it said.

Thomas Cook Airlines announces European destinations from Cardiff Airport for Easter 2019

Thomas Cook Airlines has said that it will introduce Easter 2019 flights from Cardiff airport for the first time.

As per the plan, Thomas Cook Airlines has added over 15,000 seats to destinations including Turkey, Majorca, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Cyprus and a new route to Enfidha in Tunisia. The airlines will operate 11 flights a week starting from April 3, 2019 until the end of that month.

With the new routes, Thomas Cook Airlines now flies to 12 sun and beach destinations from Cardiff and has over 120,000 seats on sale throughout 2019 (Easter and Summer). Tickets are now on sale via www.thomascookairlines.com.

Henry Sunley, Commercial Director at Thomas Cook Airlines, said, ‘This is a brand new Easter programme from Cardiff with our season traditionally beginning on May 1. It’s great to be able to reward our customers who fly with us from Cardiff airport with even more choice.’

Spencer Birns, Commercial Director, Cardiff Airport, added: ‘It’s excellent to see one of our valued airline partners adding even more choice for our passengers for Spring and Summer next year.

‘Cardiff Airport now welcomes more than 1.5 million passengers annually who are often in search of warmer weather and holiday packages that offer value for money, so Thomas Cook Airlines’ announcement of more seats and a new route to Tunisia for next year is great news for customers who choose to fly from their local airport.’

For Easter 2019, the Thomas Cook Airlines’ flight-only services from Cardiff airport are priced, one-way in economy, with fares starting from £201.99 for Dalaman, Turkey; from £59.99 for Palma de Majorca; from £141.99 for Tunisia; from £118.99 for Cyprus and from £146.99 for Tenerife.

The Thomas Cook package holiday from Cardiff airport, flying with Thomas Cook Airlines one-way in economy, includes seven nights in Turkey from £2,150 for a family of four – £537 per person including discounted price for children. The flight will depart from Cardiff on April 10, 2019, with stay arranged at the five-star SENTIDO Perissia in Side on an all-inclusive basis, Cardiff Airport said in a release.

Thomas Cook Airlines announces new flight from Norwich to Dalaman

Thomas Cook Airlines has announced the launch of a new weekly flight from Norwich Airport to Dalaman, Turkey.

The weekly flight will be operated on Wednesdays and commence services on May 23 using A320 aircraft. Thomas Cook Airlines operates it flight-only from Norwich to Dalaman, one-way in economy from £75, one-week return from £219. Tickets are available to book on www.thomascookairlines.com.

The new flight service is introduced as the Thomas Cook Holiday Report 2018 found that holidaymakers are returning to Turkey this summer with a rise in bookings compared to last year. Thomas Cook Airlines is one of the largest UK carriers serving Turkey and Thomas Cook’s holiday bookings to Turkey have registered an increase of 84% year-on-year, it said.

Henry Sunley, Commercial Director at Thomas Cook Airlines, commented: ‘Turkey is a really popular destination for our customers and we are very pleased to add Norwich airport to our growing number of UK airports. We now have more than 140 weekly departures to Turkey from fourteen airports across the UK.’

Richard Pace, Managing Director at Norwich Airport, said: ‘Dalaman is in the heart of Turkey’s Turquoise Coast and is making a welcome return to our schedules in 2018. This new weekly flight gives the region’s holidaymakers even more choice from their local airport and we look forward to it starting next week.’

Thomas Cook offers seven nights in Dalaman, Turkey starting from £839 per person, based on two adults sharing. The stay will be arranged at the four star Sentido Orka Lotus Beach on an all-inclusive basis, flying from Norwich. The holidays are available to book on www.thomascook.com.

Thomas Cook launches summer 2019 holidays, adds Jamaica to its list of long haul destinations

UK holiday company Thomas Cook has announced the launch of its summer 2019 holiday schedule with the re-introduction of package holidays and flights to Jamaica.

Thomas Cook has re-introduced flights and holidays to Jamaica, which last featured in 2015, following increased customer demand. Thomas Cook Airlines will operate a weekly flight from Manchester to Montego Bay between May and October 2019.

The company’s offering to Jamaica boasts adventure, with a zip line through a rain forest, an experience of the Mystic Mountains as well as swimming in a dark lagoon. Four of the hotels being offered feature in Trip Advisor’s top 25 all- inclusive resorts for the Caribbean and three of them are in Trip Advisors’ top 25 hotels for families in the Caribbean.

Thomas Cook has also announced additional regional flights for the launch of summer 2019, with new flights and holidays from Cardiff and Belfast to Tunisia and the extension of Manchester to Marrakech.

Chris Mottershead, Managing Director at Thomas Cook UK, said: ‘We are delighted to be launching our summer 2019 holidays this early, with even more choice for our customers looking to travel further afield thanks to the addition of Jamaica. We know that many of our customers like to return to the same hotel each year, or travel on particular dates, so being able to book early means they can make sure they get the holiday that best suits them. We’ve also added more regional flights for summer 2019, making it even easier to get away locally to places like Tunisia which is once again proving popular as an affordable holiday.’

The offer also includes a zero deposit buy now-pay later scheme, allowing customers to book breaks for summer 2019 with no immediate payment, and enabling them to spread the cost with monthly direct debit payments.

Thomas Cook offers seven nights in Jamaica from £1,149 per person, based on two adults sharing. The service will commence in June 2019 with stay arranged at the three star Royal Decameron Montego Beach on an all- inclusive basis.

Thomas Cook Airlines is offering return flights from Manchester to Montego Bay from £450 per person, including hold and hand luggage, a James Martin meal and seatback entertainment. Tickets are available to book at www.thomascookairlines.com, the company said.

Thomas Cook to re-launch flights and holidays to Tunisia

Travel and holiday company Thomas Cook has said that it will resume its holiday and flight operations to Tunisia for UK customers starting February 13.

The service will start with three weekly flights to Enfidha, from Manchester, London Gatwick and Birmingham, and will expand to include Glasgow from April and Newcastle and London Stansted from May.

The move comes after the UK government changed its advice for Tunisia allowing UK holidaymakers to travel to most parts of the country. Tunisia has been a popular destination among holidaymakers with the first three flights selling out since going on sale in August 2017.

Chris Mottershead, Managing Director at Thomas Cook UK, said: ‘Tunisia has been a popular tourist destination for decades and with our first three flights sold out, there is an appetite from our customers. Its soft, long beaches, year-round sun, historic ruins and tasty local food mean it attracts lots of loyal visitors, as well as those visiting for the first time. Tunisia is once again proving to be a popular choice for a value for money holiday.’

Under the programme, Thomas Cook Airlines is offering return flights to Tunisia from £137.98 per person. Price is based on a travel date of April 10, 2018, departing from Glasgow. Thomas Cook is offering seven nights on all-inclusive at the four-star SENTIDO Phenicia from £306 per person; price is based on a travel date of March 14, 2018, departing from London Gatwick including transfers.

With the resumption of service, holidaymakers will now be able to enjoy a range of excursions to explore Tunisia’s Roman heritage including Carthage and El Djem. Those looking for a break in Tunisia this winter can choose from 10 hotels in Hammamet resort and the new Yasmine Hammamet along the north-east coast, as well as Skanes. The hotels on offer include three of Thomas Cook’s own brand of SENTIDO hotels – SENTIDO Phenicia, SENTIDO Le Sultan and SENTIDO Aziza Beach Golf & Spa designed for single travellers, couples and small families.

For summer, the number of properties will increase to 14 and will include the resort of Mahdia, Thomas Cook said.

Thomas Cook announces weekly flights from Norwich

Thomas Cook, one of the UK’s leading holiday companies, has said it will restart its services from Norwich Airport starting summer 2018, with the launch of the city’s only direct flight to Turkey.

The new service comes following an increase in demand for holiday breaks to Turkey. It was the third most popular destination for British holidaymakers, after Spain and Greece, and package holiday bookings were up 10 percent compared to last year, Norwich Airport said in a release.

Starting May 23, 2018, Thomas Cook will operate a weekly flight on Wednesdays from Norwich to Dalaman, giving holidaymakers in the Norfolk area more choice for summer break next year. Dalaman is a cultural hotspot located on the Turquoise Coast, with attractive beaches and hidden coves, and near to traveller attractions such as Butterfly Valley and the crenulated walls of 16th-century Marmaris Castle.

Christoph Debus, Chief Airlines Officer at Thomas Cook Airlines, said: ‘We are delighted to once again be offering holidaymakers in the Norwich area the ease of flying from their local airport. Whether you’re travelling as a family, couple or with friends, Turkey offers something for everyone and we look forward to making sure our customers have a holiday to remember next summer with the launch of our new weekly flight to Dalaman.’

Richard Pace, managing director of Norwich Airport, said: ‘It’s great to have Thomas Cook back at Norwich with such a brilliant offer for package holidays and flights to Turkey. I’m sure this will be a popular destination for summer 2018 and gives local people even more choice for a sunshine getaway.’

Thomas Cook is offering package holidays from Norwich to Dalaman for seven nights with prices from £407 per person, staying on a bed and breakfast basis at the SunConnect Liberty Hisaronu, departing from Norwich on May 23, 2018. Flight only services are available with prices starting from £49.99 per person based on a one way journey and excluding luggage and other optional extras. The service will be operated from May 23, 2018 until October 3, 2018.

Flight-only and package holiday options are available to book now at https://www.thomascook.com/, the airport said.