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.

Thomas Cook announces new holidays to Egypt’s Marsa Alam from Birmingham Airport

Holiday company Thomas Cook has announced a new holiday service to Marsa Alam in Egypt from Birmingham Airport for holidaymakers from across the Midlands.

The new route to the Egyptian winter sun destination comes after the company decided to cancel its programme to Sharm El Sheikh, as the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office continues to advise against travel to Sharm El Sheikh Airport.

Thomas Cook and Thomas Cook Signature holidays to Marsa Alam are available from November 2017 until April 2018. The holidays will operate on a weekly direct flight on Thomas Cook Airlines with a flying time of five and a half hours.

Located on the southern most of Egypt’s Red Sea resorts, Marsa Alam is a destination for winter sun seekers and is a premier diving and snorkelling spot, including around the Elphinstone reef.

Holidaymakers can also visit the Wadi el Gamal National Park and ‘Cleopatra’s mines’, known for gold and emeralds excavation. In addition, the coastline offers white sand beaches where dugongs and giant turtles are regularly spotted. 

Chris Mottershead, Managing Director, Thomas Cook UK and Ireland, said: ‘We are thrilled to be offering customers in the Birmingham area even more choice for a winter sun getaway to Egypt’s impressive Red Sea Riviera. We know how much our customers value their precious time away together, whether it is a relaxing resort based stay, or a more active snorkelling or diving trip. Our range of quality all-inclusive holidays provides value for money for that all important hard-earned break.’

The holidays on offer include seven-nights with fares starting from £589 per person, staying on an all-inclusive basis at the four star Sentido Oriental Dream, departing from Birmingham on November 27, 2017 as well as a seven nights package with fares from £555 per person, staying on an all-inclusive basis at the four star Sunrise Marina Resort, departing from Birmingham on January 01, 2018. Holiday prices are based on two adults sharing, inclusive of flights, transfers and all-inclusive accommodation.

In addition to Marsa Alam, Thomas Cook also offers holidays to the Red Sea resort of Hurghada and the surrounding area from Birmingham.

Flight only services are also on offer with return flights starting from GBP199 per person excluding luggage and other optional extras, available to book at www.thomascookairlines.com.

Thomas Cook to launch new US route from Manchester

Thomas Cook Airlines, one of the world’s leading leisure travel groups, has announced direct flights from Manchester to San Francisco, as part of expanding its long-haul offering and its US network.

The San Francisco route joins flights to Los Angeles and Boston launched in 2016, and New York and Miami in 2015. In addition to the new route, the airline has increased frequencies to Los Angeles from two to three flights per week, while Boston services has been increased from two to four flights per week. Thomas Cook’s agreements with partner carriers also enable customers to connect to around 90 North American and Caribbean cities.

The new direct flights to San Francisco from Manchester Airport will start on May 14, 2017 with departures from Manchester on Thursdays and Sunday. Economy seats are available from £489.98 return for economy and £689.98 Premium class.

Thomas Cook’s chief airlines officer, Christoph Debus, said: ‘It’s never been so easy for our customers to reach top US destinations. With seven direct US routes from Manchester, five of which we have launched in the last 3 years, we’re making good progress with our strategy to grow our long-haul network.’

‘It’s also great news for the North of England as not only can passengers reach the stunning scenery of Northern California direct, they are also connected with the booming business hub of Silicon Valley.’

Ken O’Toole, CEO of Manchester Airport, said: ‘We are pleased that Thomas Cook Airlines continues to grow from Manchester Airport and look forward to working closely with them in future as they expand further.

‘The addition of a new San Francisco service and increased frequency on the existing Los Angeles and Boston routes means there will be more than 2.2m seats on sale between Manchester and the States in the coming year.

‘That represents growth of more than 25% over two years, with more seats added at Manchester than at any of the other top 25 airports in Europe, cementing our position as the global gateway for the North.’

The expansion in US services comes as passenger numbers to the US on Thomas Cook’s UK airline have more than trebled in the last two years. Almost one million Thomas Cook customers will have travelled to the US from across Europe during the winter and summer seasons this year – an increase of 40 per cent year-on-year, the airline said.

Thomas Cook Airlines will also launch London Gatwick-Cape Town flights in December 2016, while its sister airline, Condor, has expanded its direct flight to the US from Germany in the last two years to include Austin, Portland, New Orleans and San Diego, it added.

Thomas Cook Airlines offers premium service from Cardiff to Orlando

Thomas Cook Airlines, a British charter airline based in Manchester, will operate a one-off flight to Orlando on its long haul Airbus A330 fleet next summer, on Friday August 28, 2015, Cardiff Airport said in a release.

Offering holidays for 14 nights, Thomas Cook’s return flight only prices start from £537 (Adult Economy), £466 (Child Economy) and £771 (Premium). Thomas Cook’s Orlando holidays on offer include 14 nights at the Rosen Inn from £949, based on two adults sharing a standard room, on a room only basis. The new service is on sale now alongside a range of package holidays.

The airline has also announced that it plans to run a further flight in 2016 – on Wednesday 25th May, also for a 14 night departure.

Rob Thompson, Thomas Cook Airline’s Director of Commercial and Planning, said, ‘It’s great news for our customers in the South Wales and West of England region that we’re able to offer our first long haul flight for many years from Cardiff Airport – due to popular demand. It’s also a flight which will benefit from the recent announcement of the abolition of APD for the under 12’s travelling in economy – which means our long haul flights are ever better value for families.

‘Like many of our long haul routes, the Orlando flight will feature one of our new refurbished fleet, with our new Premium service. Our brand new long haul Economy cabins and service will challenge perceptions of our airline, and our new Premium will ensure our customers experience a great range of services, flying in style to their summer break.’

Spencer Birns, Aviation Business Development Director at Cardiff Airport said: ‘We are really pleased with Thomas Cook’s decision to operate flights to Orlando from Cardiff next summer and in 2016. Thomas Cook has recognised the big demand in Wales for Florida flights and we’re pleased our customers are being offered more travel options to popular holiday destinations from Cardiff Airport.’

The flight to Orlando will feature 49 Premium and 265 Economy seats. Thomas Cook Airlines has recently announced a new cabin experience for customers on its Airbus A330 long haul fleet, with new Economy and Premium services from May 2015. With a James Martin three course premium meal service including complimentary drinks, the new on demand in-flight entertainment system, as well as ergonomically designed seats with extra legroom options, the airline promises to offer an improved travel experience.

 

Thomas Cook Airlines to expand services from Birmingham

There is to be an additional aircraft based at Birmingham Airport for summer 2015, with Thomas Cook taking this up to offer more seats and holidays to customers in the Midlands.

As per the plan, Thomas Cook Airlines will replace its current Boeing 757 fleet at the airport with three Airbus A321 aircraft, with the increase to four aircraft completed with an Airbus A320. With the expansion, the airline will be able to offer 47,000 more flight seats and holidays to customers in the Midlands.

In the past months, Thomas Cook Airlines has added six brand new Airbus A321 aircraft to its UK fleet. It will add three further deliveries from Airbus in 2015, as part of the agreement to deliver 25 aircraft to  Thomas Cook Group Airlines by 2016.

With the changes, there will be a 20 per cent increase in flight seats available with Thomas Cook Airlines for summer 2015. The offering includes three brand new destinations for Birmingham Airport to Mytilene (Lesbos, Greece), Kalamata (Greece) and Djerba (Tunisia), besides Thomas Cook’s new destination, Paphos. The airline will also offer daily flights to Dalaman, as well as increased frequencies to Zante, Mahon, Bodrum, Antalya, Izmir, Bourgas and Fuerteventura.

Rob Thompson, Thomas Cook Airline’s Director of Planning, said, ‘With increasing demand from holidaymakers for regional departures, it’s great news for travellers from the Midlands as we add more flexibility and choice with flights and holidays from Birmingham Airport.’

William Pearson, Aviation Development Director at Birmingham Airport, said: ‘Thomas Cook’s decision to base an additional aircraft at Birmingham and introduce these exciting new routes means passengers looking to book a holiday for summer 15 now have even greater choice. Holidaymakers flying from Birmingham will also be able to take advantage of Thomas Cook’s new fleet of aircraft, including the brand new Airbus A321.

‘The increased capacity, which includes an additional 47,000 seats being made available, demonstrates the strong demand that exists for flights to these summer destinations from Birmingham.’

Airbnb tops traditional travel providers in online user experience

Relative newcomer Airbnb is ahead of traditional travel providers such as Virgin Atlantic and Thomas Cook in providing a first class digital user experience, according to independent research by user experience agency Webcredible.

The research followed a preliminary survey of over 500 British travel buyers, which found that 85% prefer to book their holidays online. Of these, 60% have eventually given up on their purchase and 79% have switched to a different travel provider due to challenges in the user journey.

In response, Webcredible conducted a review comparing how different types of travel providers deliver customer experience for users researching and booking holiday travel and accommodation online.

In its Travel Industry User Experience report, Webcredible mapped the online user journey and evaluated the usability of top travel providers’ websites and mobile applications. From a user’s perspective the travel providers were benchmarked against eight heuristics. The eight user experience heuristics were divided into a three step user journey, from discovery and inspiration to making a decision and then booking.

Under ‘Discovery and Inspiration,’ aspects covering researching for travel, providing review and recommendations as well as integration with social media channels were assessed. ‘Decision Making’ reviewed features such as providing accurate and timely travel information and product detail, e-mail marketing and the use of consistent branding across all channels and devices. And finally, ‘Booking’ assessed the site usability and the online booking process.

Against each heuristic, the travel providers were assigned a score and ranked in a travel user experience index.

Airbnb ranked first overall due to their exceptional website usability, simple booking processes and research options. Whereas traditional travel provider Thomas Cook came last due to the lack of brand interaction, poor use of email marketing and confusing booking processes. Other travel providers evaluated include Hotels.com, Virgin Atlantic, TripAdvisor, lastminute.com, Expedia, easyJet and Kuoni.

Webcredible Founder and CEO, Trenton Moss says: ‘Brands are generally providing a very high standard of online and app usability. There is room for improvement in some areas particularly among traditional/longstanding providers, possibly due to more complex internal operations. With mobile and social usage only set to increase, there is a new generation of providers ready to fill the niche in the online travel market.

‘It is no longer enough to simply have an online presence. The travel industry needs to capitalise on the vast opportunities available to interact and guide the consumer at every digital touchpoint and stage of their journey when booking a holiday.’

Thomas Cook set to offer more holidays and flight seats from Bristol Airport

After increased demand from holidaymakers in the region and the top performance of the airlines’ Bristol operation, Thomas Cook Airlines @FlyTC is planning to increase the size of aircraft used at the airport from the two existing Airbus A320 to a pair of the larger Airbus A321, Bristol Airport has said.

Accordingly, this summer, there will be a 20 per cent increase in holidays (available at www.thomascook.com) and flight-only seats (available at www.flythomascook.com) on offer with Thomas Cook.

Rob Thompson, Thomas Cook Airline’s Director of Planning, said, ‘It’s more great news for travellers from the South West as we add more flexibility and choice with flights and holidays from Bristol Airport building on the success of last year’s new routes.

‘Bristol Airport is a jewel in our operation, leading the way with on time performance for our fleet during last summer and in the current winter season.’

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer at Bristol Airport, added, ‘We are delighted to see an increase in the Thomas Cook Airlines capacity at Bristol Airport. Thomas Cook is a key strategic partner for Bristol Airport and we will work hard to support the success of the larger sized fleet to ensure we are top of the list for a brand new aircraft.’

In summer 2013, Thomas Cook Airlines Bristol fleet had the best performing statistics across the airline with over 90 percent of flights on time. Larger aircraft will offer more choice and availability for both package holidaymakers and others looking for flight-only offers from the South West airport.

Last year Thomas Cook added new holiday destinations of Gran Canaria and Bourgas in Bulgaria, along with the return of its Kos flight.

 

Thomas Cook to launch digital design hotel concept

Thomas Cook, a UK-based leisure travel group, has announced plans to launch an innovative range of high-tech hotels – the new SunConnect Resorts – which will offer family-friendly rooms, online gaming areas, dining rooms, and a spacious pool, with free wireless Internet throughout the resort-site for people looking to stay connected during their holidays, The Daily Mail has reported.

The first sun and beach holiday plan to use digital technology, SunConnect features a user-friendly website, and offers the ability to browse and book daily activities through smart-phones and tablets. Customers will have the support of a ConnectScout, a technology-trained holiday host who will help with digital activities for the whole family, with options that include geocaching or Xbox gaming.

SunConnect will initially launch at ten resorts, available for summer 2014 through all-inclusive holiday packages in all markets across the Thomas Cook Group. Resorts will be located in prime destinations across Turkey, Cyprus, Gran Canaria, Majorca, Tunisia and Croatia.

‘Following the extensive survey of leisure travellers we undertook earlier this year, we found there was an increasing need for connected holiday experiences which was not being addressed,’ said Harriet Green, group CEO of Thomas Cook Group plc.

‘Our new SunConnect resorts are a major step forward in offering customers what they want. This isn’t just a re-brand of some of our hotels, it’s about our promise to listen to our customers and provide a high-tech, high-touch experience throughout these new resorts. SunConnect will give our customers access to the full strength and end-to-end value of Thomas Cook and our innovative offerings of our services and products. These new resorts show more clearly what differentiates us, whilst offering a high quality holiday experience that families can trust. SunConnect is just one innovative example of our complete range of holiday experiences inspired by our customers,’ added Green.

For those who are actually looking to ‘disconnect’ on holiday, the resorts promise to offer all of the traditional facilities to ensure a perfect holiday for every member of the family.

Thomas Cook’s CEO enters Fortune’s top 50 businesswomen list, easyJet’s CEO improves position

Thomas Cook chief executive officer, Harriet Green, has entered the list of the top 50 most powerful international businesswomen, as selected by Fortune magazine.

The listing also sees easyJet chief executive, Carolyn McCall, jump up to ninth position from 35 last year. Green is placed 18th in the top 50, duly recognised for her turnaround of Europe’s second-largest travel group since joining last year.

Ms Green was appointed chief executive of the UK-based travel company in July 2012, after she cold-called the chairman and told him that she was the right person to lead the troubled group’s recovery. At that time, Thomas Cook – which is claimed to be the world’s oldest travel business – was struggling after a general fall in tourism numbers following global recession, and unrest in the Middle East. The company was also burdened with debts of more than £1bn.

Fortune said: ‘Green, 51, cold-called the group’s chairman Frank Meysman and convinced him to hire her to run the 172-year-old travel firm, after the previous chief executive left under a cloud of losses and debt.

‘The company is bouncing back just 14 months into her stint, after she undertook a complex $2.6 billion refinancing deal (which was oversubscribed), and a digital overhaul of the $15-billion-in-revenue business.

‘Since Green, a medieval history major, took over, shares have soared tenfold and market capitalisation has jumped from $243 million to $3.7 billion.’

Ms Green, who was previously chief of electronic components distributor, Premier Farnell, for six years, told The BBC last week that her first job at Thomas Cook was to boost staff confidence. ‘You need to be really working on the psychology of the business, building belief, beginning to rebuild a culture, giving people a self, a sense of renewed self-esteem,’ she said.

Meanwhile, easyJet’s Carolyn McCall marked the biggest jump on Fortune’s list, up from 35 last year to No. 9 this year. The ranking rise comes as the budget airline joined the FTSE 100 earlier this year, and paid out its first dividend to shareholders. McCall, who took charge in 2010, has profitably steered the company through challenging times, with profit rising by 13 percent in 2012 and shares up by 161 percent in the past 12 months.