The first Thomas Cook Airlines Airbus A321 carrying the group’s new ‘Sunny Heart’ livery is set to enter service next week.

The aircraft is the second of 23 new A321s ordered by Thomas Cook Group to be delivered by 2016 as it replaces almost a third of its short and medium-haul fleet.

Six will be deployed in the UK by next summer, with the latest aircraft entering service in the next few days operating holiday flights to a range of European destinations.

The new Airbus is the first in the group – and one of a very small number of such aircraft overall – to be fitted with wing-tip Sharklets which help it fly using less fuel. This contributes to an overall fuel efficiency of up to 6% compared to the existing aircraft in the fleet.

The first flights will take place next week after being delivered to the airline’s Manchester base from Airbus in Hamburg – with the aircraft set to be based at Belfast airport.

Christoph Debus, chairman of Thomas Cook Group Airlines and chief executive of Thomas Cook Airlines UK said: “Today marks the beginning of an exciting phase for our UK airline, bringing a new experience for our customers as we welcome this new aircraft to our fleet.

“By next summer, six such aircraft will be taking our holidaymakers to destinations across Europe and North Africa.

“It’s very symbolic that we will see the first of our new Airbus A321 aircraft in the UK take on our new ‘Sunny Heart‘ livery, an icon for the new Thomas Cook and the new Thomas Cook Airlines.”