British Airways launches new Turkish route after Thomas Cook collapse

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LONDON (Reuters) – British Airways announced the launch of a new flight from London’s Gatwick Airport to the Turkish resort of Antalya on Wednesday, once one of Thomas Cook’s most popular routes, as airlines jostle to fill the void left by its collapse.

British Airways, owned by IAG (L:), said that the six-per-week service would begin on April 30 2020, and also promoted the flight with a British Airways Holidays offer.

Thomas Cook collapsed last month, with its UK business entering liquidation. Antalya and Dalaman in Turkey were Thomas Cook Airlines’ most popular destinations for British travelers, according to data from airline database Cirium.

“Holiday makers can look forward to another option when flying to Turkey with British Airways next summer,” said Adam Carson, BA’s managing director of Gatwick.

A spokeswoman for British Airways said that the route announcement had been a long time coming and was not connected to Thomas Cook’s failure.

But its collapse has seen airlines exploring how they can replace Thomas Cook’s capacity to holiday destinations or buy its slots at airports like Gatwick or Manchester.

Turkey’s Tourism Minister said last month that easyJet and Dart Group’s Jet2.com would join BA in boosting their flight numbers to Turkey, adding that Turkey will be able to make up for the shortfall in tourist numbers after Thomas Cook’s failure.

EasyJet (L:) Chief Executive Johan Lundgren has said the airline is looking at Thomas Cook’s assets, although it is not interested in buying Condor, Thomas Cook’s German airline, which is still operating and has been offered a bridging loan by the German government.

A spokesman for AlixPartners, which is handling the liquidation of Thomas Cook’s UK airline and tour operator, was not immediately available to comment on whether there had been bids for Thomas Cook’s airport slots.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has expressed interest in taking on some of Thomas Cook’s leased Airbus planes and pilots, but also said that the airline group is not interested in taking on Condor.

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