Thomas Cook cuts size of UK fleet

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Tour operator Thomas Cook is to cut six aircraft from its UK fleet as it battles with a constricted holiday market and poor financial results.

The company is to remove four Airbus A330-200s, a Boeing 767-300ER and an Airbus A320-200 from the fleet of Thomas Cook Airlines by the end of the year, cutting its overall size from 41 to 35. The cuts are part of the "fundamental strategic and operational review" of the Group's UK business announced following a profit warning in July 2011.

The Group's UK operations have been buffeted by the country's economic situation, which has squeezed consumer spending and affected purchases of foreign holidays.

Three of the A330s operated third-party flights for holiday operator Canadian Affair under a contract that is not being renewed for the approaching winter season. They will be returned to their lessor, which a Thomas Cook spokesman declined to name.

The airline has three leased A330s in its fleet according to Flightglobal's ACAS database: two from The CIT Group and one from Lease Corp International.

A further A330 will return to Thomas Cook's Scandinavian business at the end of 2011, while the Boeing 767 will join sister airline Condor in Germany. The A320, owned by Thomas Cook, will be retired.

Around 250 staff will be affected by the fleet reduction. "We announced in our half-year results in May that we would be looking at our airline structure in the UK and yesterday we told staff we would be reducing the fleet," said the spokesman. "This is about making sure our airline in the UK fits with capacity and customer demand."

In December last year, the Group said it was embarking on a review of its long-haul fleet, after having settled on the Airbus A320 family as the future basis of its shorter-haul services. The company firmed an order for 12 A321s with "sharklet" wingtip modifications at the start of this year and has since signed up to take a further six A321s on lease from Air Lease Corporation.

The spokesman said that there was no further news on the overall review of the long-haul fleet.