Thomas Cook restructures airlines in line with Condor model

Thomas Cook Airlines, a British charter airline based in Manchester and serving main holiday resorts worldwide, is planning to restructure its operations to handle Manchester and Frankfurt airports as long-haul hubs with passengers feeding in off connecting flights.

The restructuring model for Thomas Cook Airlines, the world’s oldest travel group, will be provided by German airlines Condor following the creation of a single airline division earlier this year. In February, the British travel group said that Condor, its German airline brand, Thomas Cook Airlines UK and Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium would become one airline segment within the group effective from March 1. The carriers will move to a common IT system next year.

Following the restructuring, the UK carrier will maintain direct flights from various UK airports to the Mediterranean and Canary Islands as well as long-haul services from Manchester, Gatwick and Glasgow to Orlando and Cancun.

Manchester airport will remain central to Thoms Cook’s long-haul operations, and flight schedules will be coordinated with Condor’s main hub at Frankfurt. Thomas Cook is yet to decide on the destinations to operate out of each hub. Long-haul departures from Manchester will be fed by early morning Flybe flights from the regions.

Jens Boyd, group head of long-haul at Thomas Cook Airlines, said: ‘We’ve planned the summer 2014 schedule [at Manchester] to fit the new requirements with 11am departures so passengers from Belfast, Glasgow, Aberdeen or Norwich could fly in the same morning.’ Currently, flights depart about 9am.

Thomas Cook will simultaneously offer a multitude of options with Condor via Frankfurt using Lufthansa connecting flights from the UK. The Frankfurt long-haul operation is thrice the size of Manchester in summer and six times the size in winter.

The German carrier operates independently, charging Thomas Cook ‘market prices’ for seats. It sells 40 percent of seats direct and only one-third in-house, with the remainder sold through third parties. Thomas Cook Airlines will create an external sales team.

Earlier this month, after posting its first third-quarter profit since staving off bankruptcy in 2011, Thomas Cook said that it was expecting to become more profitable from a restructuring that will see the travel group cut jobs, divest businesses, close branches and merge its airline operations.