Leisure carrier Thomson Airways became the first UK airline to launch passenger operations with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on June 20, 2013 when it operated the aircraft on a special day trip flight between London Gatwick and Mahon on the Balearic island of Menorca.
The airline recently took delivery of its first three 787s in just a two week spell and has been using them on an intensive crew training schedule at airports across the UK and Ireland. The aircraft will be used on scheduled long-haul routes to Orlando Sanford, Florida and Cancun in Mexico from London Gatwick, Manchester, East Midlands and Glasgow airports, starting from July 8, 2013.
David Burling, Managing Director of Thomson Airways’ parent company TUI UK and Ireland, joined passengers on-board the historic first flight. He said: “Today has been several months and years in the planning and after a lot of hard work I am absolutely thrilled to celebrate the first flight from London Gatwick, which is a very important event in the company's history.”
The launch of passenger operations by Thomson Airways comes less than a week before fellow UK carrier, British Airways, is due to receive its first 787s. Its first aircraft is due to arrive at its London Heathrow base around mid-morning on June 26, 2013 with the second aircraft following just 24 hours later on June 27, 2013.
Meanwhile, after announcing recent capacity growth for summer 2014 at a number of its UK bases, Thomson Airways has confirmed it will also increase its schedules from Newcastle International Airport as tour operators, Thomson and First Choice create an extra 20,000 holidays for travellers from the North East England in 2014.
As part of the continued expansion of its holiday programme from its home UK market and in particular supporting a business strategy to enable customers to fly from their local airport, Thomson Airways will be boosting frequencies across its network from Newcastle, enabling customers more choice and the ability to book a mix of seven, ten, eleven or 14 night holidays to destinations such as Costa Del Sol, Kefalonia and Rhodes rather than the existing week and fortnight options.
“Increasing our capacity from Newcastle International Airport demonstrates our commitment to the region and following the success of similar routes across a number of regional airports, we know that the demand is there,” said Paul Cooper, Airport Negotiations Manager for Thomson and First Choice. “Expanding access to our portfolio of destinations and hotels is a key part of our overall strategy and we hope that this move will enhance the holiday experience for our customers.”
The increase in capacity follows the announcement that Thomson Airways will also be operating the Dreamliner to Cancun and Orlando from Newcastle airport from July 21, 2014. Thomson and First Choice summer destinations from Newcastle include, Florida, Sharm el Sheikh, Funchal, Malta, Cancun, Bourgas, Salzburg, Larnaca, Paphos, Corfu, Heraklion, Kefalonia, Kos, Rhodes, Skiathos, Zakynthos, Naples, Verona, Faro, Ibiza, Mahon, Palma, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Las Palmas, Tenerife, Alicante, Malaga, Reus, Enfidha (Tunisia), Antalya, Bodrum and Dalaman.