The massive rebranding of TUI—that will see five of the group’s six European airlines rolled into one—is also set to shake up the group’s MRO division.
Jason Mahoney, director engineering and maintenance, confirmed Thomson Airways Engineering will move its heavy operations from Hannover, Germany, to Luton, England, and become TUI Airlines Engineering. There it will look after a combined fleet of 140 aircraft—Boeing 737NGs, 757s, 767s, 787s and Embraer 190s—which will make TUI Airlines the sixth-largest carrier in Europe.
“We will use our Luton hangar as our primary facility for base maintenance, with the other hangars—in Arlanda [Sweden], Hannover and Brussels—supporting our minor and casualty maintenance operations,” he says.
That fleet will expand further; the new airline has converted two existing 787-8s orders, scheduled for delivery in summer 2016, to larger 787-9s. It has also ordered a third 787-9 with an option to purchase a fourth.
Last year’s merger of London-listed TUI Travel and its German owner TUI AG into the TUI Group led to a simplification drive to bring the various tour operator names under the single TUI brand. That includes combining Arkefly, Jet-airfly, Thomson Airways, TUIfly and TUIfly Nordic, but not Corsair International. Although they are now grouped under the TUI brand, the airlines will retain their separate AOCs.
While the engineering division focuses almost exclusively on in-house maintenance, barring some line maintenance at non-core stations, Mahoney admitted that more significant external contracts could be in the cards.
“This will be an iterative process and a highly complex one at that,” he says. “Once we embark upon this transition, we can evaluate other options, such as progressing into more third-party maintenance, but it is too early to say at this stage. First and foremost, we are an internal MRO organization.”