Tunisian private airline Nouvelair is looking to launch its own commercial routes to the UK following the collapse of Thomas Cook. Starting in May, the airline will begin to offer flights from Enfidha Airport to London Gatwick and Manchester airports. Previously, the airline only operated charter flights and flights for tour operators.
When Thomas cook collapsed it left a huge gap in the market. One of the places most affected was Tunisia. The holiday company operated a huge number of direct flights between Tunisia and the UK accounting for almost 70% of the total capacity. Now, with no Thomas Cook, charter airline Nouvelair is stepping in to fill the gap.
Nouvelair has a history of operating charter flights on behalf of British tour operators, but now it wants to launch its own flights. Using its fleet of 12 Airbus A320s, the airline will launch its first flights to the UK in May. There will be two flights per week to Gatwick and a further three flights a week to Manchester.
While the flights are currently only on the schedule from May to October to cover the busy summer season, the airline has the option to extend into the winter months if the routes prove successful.
Filling the Thomas Cook gap
According to Routesonline, due to the collapse of Thomas Cook “overall capacity between the two countries this summer will be about 245,000 seats, down from 404,000 during summer 2019.” This is with other airlines already upping their capacity. Nouvelair isn’t the only one to be capitalizing on Thomas Cook’s collapse. TUI has already upped its capacity by 63%.
The gaps left by Thomas Cook are a great way for airlines to expand their network and fill the spaces left behind by the operator’s collapse. Airlines can be sure that the demand for the routes already exists.
However, some airlines have gotten into some hot water after taking over Thomas Cook routes. Jet2, which also operates out of Manchester airport, was accused of unfairly raising the cost of its flights after the Thomas Cook collapse. With less competition, airlines can not only start offering more flights, but they can also charge more.
Thomas Cook had a huge presence at both Gatwick and Manchester airports. It previously held 350 slots at Manchester Airport and 200 at Gatwick. With so many slots available, it’s no surprise that airlines like Nouvelair are branching out and trying to meet demand.
The future of Nouvelair
The tourism industry in Tunisia is no doubt thrilled a local operator is looking to offer direct flights. But will Nouvelair be successful with its new venture? The airline certainly seems to have the support of Gatwick Airport. In a statement, head of airline relations, Stephen King, said,
“Nouvelair’s commitment to Gatwick means we can now offer passengers more choice when it comes to travel options, with Tunisian tourism predicted to reach a 10-year high in 2020.”
The airline will continue to offer its services to UK tour operators and charter flights. With the lifting of the travel ban in 2017, flights to Tunisia are a growing area of the aviation market. Nouvelair seems to be ready to take advantage of travelers returning to Tunisia. The airline also recently announced it will be connecting Tunisia to Strasbourg and Brussels.
With competition coming from TUI fly and Tunisair, only time will tell if we about to witness the rise of Nouvelair into a commercial giant.