London-based trade-only operator and consolidator Major Travel will open a branch office in Peterborough next month, near the former Thomas Cook head office.

Opening on November 18 at the Peterborough Business Park, Lynch Wood, the new office will have reservations, after-sales and product staff from the scheduled long-haul team previously known as Thomas Cook Signature.

Many members of the new team are currently working alongside the Civil Aviation Authority supporting Operation Matterhorn and the fulfilment of bookings and refunds.

Major Travel will increase its range with products under a new brand called Signature Long Haul.

A new Signature Long Haul website (www.signaturelonghaul.co.uk) as well as micro sites for the portfolio of Signature brands will follow.

Staff working for the new team together have more than 300 years of experience designing complex tailor-made itineraries.

A key focus will be helping agents create itineraries that other tour operators deem too complex to facilitate, said Major Travel.

Three new team leaders have been appointed from former Cook staff, these are Adrian Parsley, who will be team manager in reservations, Rute Magalhaes who is leading up the helpdesk team and Candy Homes who will be taking the newly-created role of learning development manager.

Major Travel will employ in total 12 reservation staff and four helpdesk staff.

Candy Homes said: “I had my dream job at Thomas Cook, splitting my time training and developing staff and selling. So I can’t thank Major enough for the opportunity.”

Adrian Parsley said: “It was a huge relief and an amazing opportunity. We’ve been through hell over the last couple of weeks. I was there for 17 years and when I heard about Major Travel wanting to take on Scheduled, I was over the moon.”

Qasim Gulamhusein, managing director, said: “Our decision to open a new office in Peterborough was not driven by a desire for financial gain but rather by a spirit of solidarity with the rest of the industry, which was coming together to do whatever they could to help their friends and colleagues.

“We have taken on a few more people than we need, but, following all the messages of support for ex-Cookies from agents across the UK, we are confident that they will now support us to make a success of this new operation.

“With the backing of agents, old and new, we hope to take on even more ex-Thomas Cook staff in Peterborough, many of which have already been forced to leave travel and the industry that they love.

“This new office gives us access to over 350 years of travel experience that would have been lost from the industry forever.”

Mohammed Rashid, marketing director, added: “During our recruitment day on October 2, I was struck by how much knowledge and experience the Scheduled Long Haul team shared between them and I was shocked to hear how many of these amazing people were now looking for jobs outside the travel industry.

“I am therefore proud to be able to prevent the loss of such an extensive array of talent within long-haul travel through the opening of our new Peterborough office.

“Our new office represents an investment of over £1 million over the next three years and further cements our position as a dedicated champion of the trade that is committed to exclusively serving the needs of our agents.

“We are excited about the wide range of long-haul product that we will be adding over the coming months and with our new team of experts, we know we will quickly become the long-haul operator of choice.”

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