AIR Miles has unveiled plans to open 15-20 stores
around the country as it relaunches as a full-service travel retailer.
The loyalty scheme – rebranded the Air Miles Travel
Company – has severed commercial ties with owner British Airways in an effort
to compete with on-line giants such as Lastminute.com and Expedia.
It has already signed up 18 airlines, 50 tour
operators and more than 20,000 hotels.
Managing director Drew Thomson said the company, which
has a turnover of £200 million a year, intended to
treble in size within the next five years.
“When we were set up by BA 15 years ago, the main aim
for the airline was to use Air Miles to shift distressed or
restricted-availability tickets,” said Thomson. “But BA has become more
flexible with Ba.com so it’s time Air Miles became a proper travel retailer. We
are still owned by BA but we will offer flights
and holidays from everyone.”
A soft launch of the Air Miles website earlier this
year allowed non-collectors to buy travel products from Air Miles for the first
“Buying with miles and money will always be better
than just money, but we are promising our prices will be as good, if not
better, than any other retailer,” he added.
Customers buying products with cash will be awarded
miles back to redeem against their next purchase.
Thomson said the make-up of the proposed retail
network would be unveiled shortly.