Tui Travel plans to increase fam trips for agents ahead of expansion of its long-haul programme in 2012-13 when it begins flying the Boeing 787.


In-house carrier Thomson Airways will be the first UK airline to fly the so-called Dreamliner, which will cut four to five hours off journey times to Southeast Asia by flying direct from regional airports to resorts such as Pattaya in Thailand.


Thomson believes the 787 will transform long-haul flying and increase demand for shorter breaks in exotic locations.


It is assessing a host of new destinations, from Buenos Aires to Borneo, that are within the aircraft’s range – including Hawaii and Honolulu – and said the 787 would operate not just from Gatwick and Manchester but from Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh and Glasgow.


Allied to the new product, Tui Travel UK commercial director David Burling told an audience of tourism board and destination reps this week: “We are developing a programme to offer fam trips during quieter periods.”


Details of the trips could be revealed this autumn.


Burling was speaking at the opening seminar in the new Destination Connect programme for tourism boards organised by Travel Weekly publisher TWgroup.


The 787 made its first flight to the UK this week for the Farnborough Air Show. It will carry 270 to 320 passengers faster than any existing aircraft, while using 20% less fuel, thanks to its carbon-fibre body.


The aircraft should enter service next year, two years later than planned, with the first of eight delivered to Thomson in January 2012 – bringing new destinations for winter 2012-13 and the following summer.