Thomas Cook and British Airways announced today that they intend to create one of the UK’s leading scheduled tour operating companies.
The two groups plan to merge their existing UK scheduled businesses - Thomas Cook Holidays and British Airways Holidays outbound business to create a joint venture company that will provide holidays to more than 400,000 customers a year and offer one of the most extensive portfolios of scheduled outbound programmes in the industry.
The new company will be owned on a 50/50 basis by Thomas Cook and British Airways. The intention is for the new business to become fully operational from next spring, subject to approval from the European Commission.
John Donaldson, Chief Executive, Thomas Cook Holdings, said: “This is a major development for Thomas Cook. With independent scheduled travel being one of the fastest growing sectors in the industry, we have been looking for expansion opportunities. British Airways is the best possible partner for us. The combined strengths of our brands and quality of programmes will give us a strong competitive position to grow our business.”
Dale Moss, Director of Sales for British Airways, said: “This is a marriage of two of the quality brand names in travel. The joint venture will enable us to offer our combined customers the best value possible, the widest range of programmes and exemplary customer service, as well as creating improved efficiencies and enhanced distribution channels.”
The two organisations bring complementary strengths to the joint venture. Thomas Cook’s longhaul strengths lie in Canada, the USA and Egypt, whereas British Airways Holidays is strong in the Caribbean, Florida and the Far East. In the shorthaul sector, Thomas Cook Holidays is a major European City Breaks operator, through its Time Off brand, and has high performing programmes to Disneyland Paris, the Channel Islands and Ireland. British Airways Holidays has an extensive City Breaks programme covering Europe and the Middle East and is the UK’s leading golf holidays operator.
When the joint venture company becomes fully operational all holiday programmes will continue to be offered through Thomas Cook’s retail network, British Airways Travel Shops and through the other UK high street and independent travel retailers. The joint venture company will also focus on significantly increasing the distribution of its products through the internet via thomascook.com and britishairways.com as well as other online retailers.
A single management team, under Simon Laxton, currently Managing Director of Thomas Cook Holidays, will be responsible for merging the two operations and running the combined business.
He said: “Together Thomas Cook Holidays and British Airways Holidays will be able to offer UK travellers an unrivalled range of choice. We aim to make excellent customer service our hallmark.”
Over the coming months teams from both Thomas Cook Holidays and British Airways Holidays will be working through the merger plans, which will not be implemented until EC approval has been granted.