Thomas Cook Airlines is to run its first seat-only flights to Barbados from Gatwick in winter 2017-18.

Flights are on sale now for the programme that runs from December 16, 2017 to March 17, 2018.

The Barbados service, which will be flown by one of seven Airbus A330s, will offer both premium and economy cabins on what has traditionally been a package holiday-focused route.

Return fares have gone on sale starting at £449.98 in economy and  £639.98 for premium seats.

The move, as part of a strategy to grow seat-only sales, complements existing services from the airline’s Manchester hub and comes ahead of the start of flights from Gatwick to Cape Town

Thomas Cook Airlines aviation director James Burrows said: “We were the first airline to open up a direct service to Cape Town outside Heathrow, and we’re extending our seat-only offering for our southern England customers to make Barbados more accessible than ever with to those who want quality but are also cost conscious.

“More widely, this follows our £100 million upgrade of cabins, our seventh direct route from Manchester to the USA, and the trial of our fantastic pre-order duty free service, Airshoppen.

“Our growth into the seat-only market for customers who want quality service at an affordable price is continuing well.”