easyJet Spends £36 Million On Thomas Cook’s Former Slots

easyJet announced earlier today that it has acquired a total of 27 take off and landing slots formerly operated by Thomas Cook. The slots at London Gatwick and Bristol were bought by easyJet for a total of £36 million.

EasyJet, G-EZDP, Airbus A319-111
easyJet has acquired a number of slots owned by Thomas Cook. Photo: Anna Zvereva

Luton-based easyJet has acquired a number of flight slots at London Gatwick and Bristol which were operated by the now-defunct Thomas Cook.

For the sum of £36 million, easyJet has secured eight winter slot pairs and 12 summer slot pairs at London Gatwick, as well as eight winter slot pairs and 12 summer slot pairs at Bristol.

According to reports by Reuters, this was the first group of ex-Thomas Cook flight slots to be sold since the carrier collapsed. As such, easyJet’s acquisition likely represents the cream of the crop in terms of Thomas Cook slots which best fit its current network.

Picking over the remains of Thomas Cook

As with the collapse of any business, Thomas Cook’s most valuable assets have been snapped up in the aftermath of its liquidation. The airline was operating a fleet of 34 aircraft when it fell into administration, but 31 of them were being leased.

Aircraft are usually one of the most accessible sources of capital available to insolvency administrators when an airline is liquidated. But in the case of Thomas Cook, the airline only actually owned three aircraft.

While Thomas Cook didn’t have much capital in the form of aircraft, its position as a tour operator was beneficial to the insolvency administrators in another way.

An easyJet jet
Thomas Cook’s flight slots were one of its most valuable assets. Photo: Andreas Trojak via Flickr

Unlike normal airlines, Thomas Cook leased hundreds of stores across the UK. The entire Thomas Cook real estate portfolio was taken over by Hays Travel in early October.

In total, Hays Travel acquired 555 ex-Thomas Cook shops as well as offering reemployment to 600 ex-Thomas Cook employees.

Hays Travel’s managing director, John Hays, said, “It is a game-changer for us, almost trebling the number of shops we have and doubling our workforce.”

Finally, the Thomas Cook brand was acquired by Chinese Investment company and Thomas Cook shareholder, Fosun International, earlier this month for £11 million.

Despite the sale of many of the more tangible assets owned by Thomas Cook, its flight slots are still one of the company’s most valuable assets.

easyJet’s new slots

easyJet was not the only airline interested in acquiring the ex-Thomas Cook flight slots. Rival bids were also placed by IAG, the owner of British Airways, amongst others.

Jet2 has reportedly also acquired a number of Thomas Cook’s slots at Manchester, London Stansted and Birmingham, although the fee paid for them has not been disclosed.

Airbus A321-211 ‘G-DHJH’ Thomas Cook
Thomas Cook’s assets are still being sold off. Photo: Alan Wilson via Flickr

You might expect that the acquisition of highly sought-after slots would go down well among investors. But easyJet’s shares actually witnessed a downturn during lunchtime trading, falling 1.4% to 1,320p.

easyJet’s plans for the slots will be announced alongside its full-year financial results which are due to be published on 19 November. The carrier has not yet been able to respond to Simple Flying’s request for comment on its new acquisition.