Thomson Airways to Serve Phuket with Dreamliner
UK leisure carrier Thomson Airways will inaugurate the first direct flights between the UK and the popular Thai holiday destination of Phuket during the winter 2013/2014 schedule by taking advantage of the performance improvements and operational efficiency its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners will introduce to its fleet.
Thomson Airways is the launch customer for the Dreamliner in the UK and is scheduled to take delivery of its first aircraft during the first quarter of next year. The airline revealed in the spring that the 787 will initially enter scheduled service from May 1, 2013 on routes from London Gatwick, Manchester, East Midlands and Glasgow airports to Orlando Sanford in Florida, USA and Cancun, Mexico but speaking exclusively to The HUB earlier this year, Chirs Browne, Managing Director, Thomson Airways confirmed that a number of new markets’ like Phuket, were also on the cards.
“As the UK’s third largest airline, it is a major coup for us to become the first UK airline to take delivery of the 787 Dreamliner,” she said. “Starting to fly the Dreamliner is a key step in our journey to modernise the holiday experience we provide for our customers. We are looking at a number of new exotic destinations and on the shortlist at the minute for launch in the next 12 to 18 months are Thailand, South Africa and Vietnam.”
In 2011 an estimated 100,000 O&D passengers travelled between the UK and Phuket on scheduled air services, the majority flying via the Thai capital Bangkok on the services of Thai Airways International and EVA Air from London. Although no airline has previously offered non-stop flights between the UK and Phuket, Thai Airways International has provided one-stop connections via Bangkok.
“Choosing Thailand as a destination was an obvious choice; it is extremely popular with tourists and tops the bill for independent travellers, with its perfect mix of modern hotels, white sandy beaches that stretch for miles and authentic Thai cuisine, temples and markets – it has a unique appeal to couples, groups and families alike,” said Shona Swain, General Manager of Long Haul Product for Thomson and First Choice.
To celebrate the arrival of the new aircraft next year, a revised aircraft interior and the brand new livery design for Thomson Airways, as well as other TUI Travel Group airlines has been launched. Thomson intends to configure its 787s to carry 291 passengers. A Premium Club cabin will seat 47 in a 2-3-2 configuration, each with a 38” pitch, and the Economy Club cabin will seat 244 in a 3-3-3 configuration, each with a 33” or 34” pitch.
Over the next three years Thomson Airways will receive eight of the 13 Dreamliners currently ordered by TUI Travel, but with 13 purchase options there is scope for further growth. The first four are provisionally due to arrive in 2013, three more in 2014 and the last in 2015. Ahead of the scheduled introduction of the 787 on May 1, 2013, the type will be used on crew familiarisation flights across its existing short-haul network, meaning that a number of its Mediterranean destinations will be among the first to handle the modern generation jet.