TUI UK launches Coventry-based low-cost airline Thomsonfly.com

TUI UK is entering the burgeoning low-cost flight sector with an airline called Thomsonfly.com.

Thomsonfly.com will fly from Coventry Airport to ten destinations, which include Jersey, Palma, Valencia, Rome, Malaga and Nice.

The airline’s launch will be backed with a &£4m marketing campaign, including regional outdoor, radio and TV advertising, created by BMP DDB.

Marketing will be handled by Thomsonfly.com marketing director Maria Heckel, who was previously head of business development at TUI UK. She reports to the airline’s commercial director Alex Hunter and will liaise with TUI marketing director Hugh Edwards.

Thomsonfly.com’s booking website went live yesterday (Tuesday) and flights begin on March 31, 2004. The company estimates that more than 15 million people live within a two-hour drive of Coventry Airport.

One-way fares will begin at &£17.99 to Jersey and &£19.99 to Rome. Unlike rivals such as easyJet, passengers will be able to book particular seats, upon payment of a &£5 supplement.

Parent company TUI AG already operates a low-cost airline, Hapag-Lloyd Express, in continental Europe. Beleaguered rival tour operator MyTravel launched its low-cost operation, MyTravelLite, in October last year.

TUI UK’s charter airline ditched its Britannia Airways name in November and its aircraft are now branded purely Thomson, although Britannia remains the name of the holding company.

TUI marketing manager for business development Dave Hodgson has been promoted to head of business development, with responsibility for developing the Thomson “power brand”.

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