Fred Olsen Travel acquires Travel Norwich Airport brand

Fred Olsen Travel has acquired the database and brand of Travel Norwich Airport, which ceased trading in the summer.

The 14-branch agency chain is reviving the brand through its two existing Norfolk branches – one in the city centre and the other near the airport.

It has taken on two of former Travel Norwich Airport employees, each of whom will be working on a part-time basis for the time-being, in one of the two branches.

Fred Olsen Travel head of commercial Paul Hardwick said he hoped to take on more agents once the market returned.

“There were four or five of the original 12 that were looking to return to travel and as things get better, we will 100 per cent look to get them back in,” he said.

Fred Olsen Travel is also looking to replicate the model of the Travel Norwich Airport brand in Dorset with the launch of Travel Bournemouth Airport.

Both airports are owned by Regional & City Airports.

The brand is set to go live in the next fortnight to increase the agency’s offering from its five south coast branches.

Hardwick said he was “delighted” to be able to resurrect the Travel Norwich Airport brand and continue to have a local focus from Norwich airport through an independent travel agent in Norfolk.

Speaking to Travel Weekly, he said: “The Travel Norwich Airport brand was really strong in Norfolk and we were saddened to hear of its closing. I am pleased we have been able to acquire the brand and database to fill the gap left behind and we look forward to working with the airport and its suppliers to support holidays flying from this regional airport.

“It made complete sense to replicate the ‘fly from your local airport’ strategy from Bournemouth alongside our revival of Travel Norwich Airport. More than 60% of our business on the south coast is cruise and while we will remain committed to specialising in and growing this sector, we recognised people might not associate our shops with fly holidays currently, so we have spotted an opportunity to add a new market to our business to help us recover quicker as we move towards 2021.”

Fred Olsen Travel has created dedicated websites for both the Norwich and Bournemouth brands, social media campaigns, videos and a magazine full of offers from tour operators that will be mailed out to the database.

For Norwich, Fred Olsen is working with operators including Tui, Premier Holidays, Newmarket and Transun, while for Bournemouth, it is promoting holidays with the likes of Transun and Prestige, which is creating packages with Ryanair flights.

Hardwick said that rather than price-match or discount, both airport brands would offer added value such as free parking and airport transfers to appeal to their local clientele.

He added: “The longer-term plan for this is to have branded shops either in the airport itself or in the town centres. But before that, we will also do pop-up shops in local shopping malls on a weekly basis.

Hardwick said Fred Olsen Travel would look at all opportunities across the industry.

“While some opportunities might fall our way due to the loss of a competitor, we are also really keen to work with other agencies on how we might collaborate together to our mutual benefit,” he said. “We are also keen to speak to any agencies who might be looking at options to find a potential exit strategy.

“2020 has been awful and incredibly challenging, but Fred Olsen Travel has a business model and the ambition that means we will not only survive Covid-19 but can come through it and flourish. Even in gloomy times like this it’s a real positive message that we are still investing in the business.”

Richard Pace, managing director at Norwich airport, said: “It’s important for our industry and our region that commercial flying returns to growth as quickly as possible and this announcement by Fred Olsen Travel will give greater choice and a significant boost to the airport.”

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