Dnata Travel Group is planning to launch a short-haul charter flying programme by next summer to fill a void left by the collapse of Thomas Cook.
The group has snapped up Henry Sunley, formerly of Thomas Cook, to lead the project as director of air supply. Sunley was previously Thomas Cook Airlines’ digital, UK & international sales director.
Chief executive John Bevan said the initial plan was to have the new air capacity available across all of its B2B and B2C brands and more details would be confirmed soon.
Dnata owns trade-only brands Gold Medal and Travel 2 and consumer brands Travelbag, Travel Republic and Netflights.
“Our B2B brands are long-haul but there could be some [short-haul] destinations that come into the mix,” Bevan said.
“We definitely want routes up and running for some of summer 2020. We’ve got to look at gaps where Thomas Cook was.
“We are interested in filling areas that Cook left behind because we don’t want to left only [using] low‑cost airlines and nothing else.”
Bevan said dnata had received a lot of interest from agents since the announcement on Monday.
He promised that short-haul products made available through its trade-only brands would offer price parity if they were also available through consumer channels.
A new technology platform is due to be built that will make airline seats available to all its brands. Currently, only the hotel stock the group buys is available to all brands.
Sunley worked at Thomas Cook for 24 years, starting at the tour operation and moving to Thomas Cook Airlines in 2012.
He became digital, UK & international sales director in 2017, leading a team of 70 people in the UK, Germany and Spain.
“I’m excited by the opportunity to build a charter proposition for the group, using my expertise in this area to maximise what we see as being a market with considerable potential,” he said.
Sunley will report into Bevan and be based at the company’s offices in Leyland, Lancashire.
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