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Thomas Cook AIRLINES


SEAT SALE


Despite being a profi table arm of its group, Thomas Cook announced it was reviewing the future of its airline. So what is the thinking behind it, and who are the potential suitors if the airline is put up for sale? WORDS: EDWARD ROBERTSON


I


t was the simplicity of the phrase that caught the eye. Following the release of


Thomas Cook Group’s fi rst-quarter results – which revealed the period’s underlying operating loss had increased by £14 million to £60 million and which came following a £163 million after-tax loss for 2018 – the group confi rmed its airline was undergoing a strategic review and could be sold. Speaking to journalists after the


Peter Fankhauser


release of the results in February, CEO Peter Fankhauser said: “Thomas Cook doesn’t need to own an airline outright to be a successful holiday company.” The group’s airline comprises fi ve arms – Condor, Thomas Cook Airlines UK, Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia, Thomas Cook Aviation and Thomas Cook Airlines Balearics – and with 103 aircraft shared between the fl eets it carried more than 20 million customers in 2018 and generated £3.5 billion in revenue. Furthermore, underlying profi ts grew by 37% year-on-year to £129 million. A quarter of the aircraft serve long- haul destinations and nearly half the seats are committed to the tour operator. While the process of selling it off will not happen overnight, Fankhauser was confi dent that the Thomas Cook Group could divest itself of the airline and still succeed. He added: “We will retain strong


commercially led relationships in any situation that comes up. Having [use of] a reliable, good-quality airline is an important part of the holiday experience, and that will always be the case.


routesonline.com ROUTES NEWS 2019 ISSUE 2 53


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