What Happened To MyTravel Airways?

When it comes to orange-liveried UK airlines, your first thought is probably Luton-based low-cost carrier easyJet. However, until 2008, this is a color that you could also find on British-registered aircraft in the form of MyTravel Airways. This was a carrier that made its name in the leisure and charter sectors before its merger with Thomas Cook.

MyTravel Airways Boeing 757
MyTravel Airways’ predecessor commenced operations in March 1991. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

Early growth under the Airtours brand

MyTravel Airways can trace its roots back to the early 1990s. This was when Airtours Holidays established its own in-house carrier, known as Airtours International Airways. The airline was founded in 1990, and commenced operations on March 11th, 1991. In its early years, it served European leisure destinations using McDonnell Douglas MD-83s.

It didn’t take long for the carrier to experience further growth. In November 1993, it acquired Aspro Holidays’ in-house airline Inter European Airways, and integrated the Cardiff-based company’s operations into its own. This saw Airtrous add Airbus A320s and Boeing 757s to the fleet. More A320s joined in the mid-1990s to replace the MD-83s.

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The advent of widebodies, and a new name

1996 heralded the acquisition of another charter airline, in the form of Denmark’s Premiair. All the while, Airtours’ fleet continued to grow, with widebody aircraft also coming onboard. The presence of the Airbus A330, Boeing 767, and McDonnell Douglas DC-10 allowed the airline to unlock lucrative leisure markets in destinations in the Caribbean and US.
Airtours MD-83
Airtours’ first aircraft were McDonnell Douglas MD-83s. Photo: Pedro Aragão via Wikimedia Commons
In February 2002, the Airtours group changed its name to MyTravel. Correspondingly, its airline also took on the MyTravel Airways name. This was a year that also saw the carrier bestowed with the honor of being the first airline to use NATS’ new air traffic control facility at Swanwick. This event concerned a flight traveling from Las Palmas to Birmingham.
MyTravel’s passenger numbers were as high as 7.52 million annually in 2002. However, this figure had dropped to 4.38 million by 2005, after a restructuring program at its parent company saw its fleet cut by a third from 45 aircraft to 29. Among the aircraft lost to this scheme were its DC-10s, of which MyTravel was the last UK-based passenger operator.

Merger with Thomas Cook

By 2007, consolidation among the UK leisure market had become increasingly necessary. In March that year, MyTravel Airways agreed to merge with Thomas Cook Airlines. This process was completed a year later, with MyTravel’s last flight operating on March 30th, 2008. Of course, Thomas Cook itself sadly ceased operations in September 2019.

MyTravel Airways DC-10
MyTravel’s DC-10s’ livery had a similar template to their Airtours days. Photo: kitmasterbloke via Flickr

During its 17 operational years first as Airtours and then as MyTravel, the airline operated an interesting variety of aircraft. According to ch-aviation, it flew the following models.

  • Airbus – A320, A321, A330.
  • Boeing – 757, 767.
  • McDonnell Douglas – DC-10, MD-83.

MyTravel also had a Scandinavian arm, known as MyTravel Airways Scandinavia. This became Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia after the aforementioned merger. However, after Thomas Cook collapsed, it has managed to carry on operating under a new name: Sunclass Airlines. It has a close affiliation with the Nordic tour operator Ving Group.

Did you ever fly with MyTravel Airways? If so, where did the airline take you, and on which aircraft? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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