TUI 60th Anniversary

We are celebrating our remarkable 60-year partnership with TUI. Over the years, our partnership has grown year after year, from the start of Britannia Airways (1964), the first Orlando flights (1992) and the first Dreamliner flights (2015).

Using materials sent in from North East passengers, we were able to create a video and timeline to showcase our remarkable partnership.

Want to revisit the decades? Use the timeline below to navigate through our history:

1960 - 1969

The first Sky Tours package holidays to Alicante, Benidorm, a small up-and-coming fishing village in Spain's Costa Blanca, began operating from Newcastle Airport in 1963. The flights were operated by the tour operator’s partner airline - Euravia Airlines. The airline operated Lockheed Constellations, capable of carrying 83 passengers.

The response to Sky Tours first package holidays from Newcastle was so positive from the North East public that three other destinations were added to the programme – the Costa Brava, Majorca and Genoa.

Euravia Airlines was rebranded as Britannia Airways. The new name was based on the airline’s second generation of aircraft – the Bristol Britannia. The aircraft was capable of carrying 112 passengers.

The Thomson Travel Group purchased Sky Tours and Britannia Airways. Sky Tours was rebranded as Thomson Skytours.

Britannia Airways recruited for their first local cabin crew to be based at Newcastle Airport. The cabin crew operated on two Bristol Britannia aircraft based at Newcastle Airport for the peak summer season.

Britannia Airways flew the first Boeing 737-200 jet aircraft from Newcastle Airport for Thomson Skytours. The North East was hailed as entering the jet age by the local media. The new jet aircraft could carry 124 passengers and shortened flight times to popular holiday destinations by as much as 1 hour.

1970 - 1979


The Thomson Travel Group expanded their high street presence by acquiring Lunn Poly – a well-known high street travel agent. During the 1970s Thomson Skytours was rebranded as Thomson Holidays.

Thomson Skytours recruited ‘Telephone Sales Girls’ based in Newcastle to cope with the increased number of holidays from the region. Thomson Holidays and Britannia Airways increased flight from Newcastle Airport by 40% year on year. For the first time, a Boeing 737-200 aircraft was based at Newcastle to operate holiday flights for the full summer season. Thomson Holidays and Britannia Airways also expanded their operation to include winter flights.

Thomson Holidays introduced new holiday destinations from Newcastle Airport to Tenerife, Malta and Malaga.

1980 - 1989


Newcastle Airport reached the milestone of 1 million passengers per annum for the first time. This was driven by continued growth in international travel and thanks to additional based aircraft and new holiday destinations to Corfu, Crete and Rhodes in Greece with Thomson Holidays and Britannia Airways.

Gateshead’s Metrocentre Shopping Centre opened, which featured a flagship Lunn Poly Holiday Shop.

1990 - 1999


Britannia Airways took delivery of the Boeing 757-200 aircraft. Throughout the 1990s until 2012, the aircraft became the main aircraft to be based at Newcastle Airport by Britannia Airways.

Britannia Airways based one of its 10 Boeing 767 wide-body jets at Newcastle Airport, which was able to carry 282 passengers. This was a significant investment from the airline and huge boost for the airport. As a result, Thomson Holidays and Britannia Airways expanded their flight and holiday programme by 27% year on year.

Thomson Holidays and Britannia Airways began operating from Newcastle to Orlando, Florida from Newcastle. The flights were operated by a Britannia Airways Boeing 767.

Britannia Airways took delivering of the Boeing 757-200 aircraft. Throughout the 1990s until 2012, the aircraft became the main aircraft to be based at Newcastle Airport by Britannia Airways.

Britannia Airways opened a new engineering facility at Newcastle Airport located inside the Airport’s old Fire Station.

2000 - 2009


The Thomson Travel Group was acquired by TUI Group to form TUI UK. This included all of Thomson’s travel brands – Thomson Holidays, Lunn Poly and Britannia Airways.

Britannia Airways rebranded as Thomsonfly and Lunn Poly Holiday Shops rebranded as Thomson. 

TUI UK and First Choice Holidays Groups merged. 

Following the merger of TUI and First Choice, their respective airlines - Thomsonfly and First Choice Airways merged to form Thomson Airways. In the same year, the first flights and holidays to Cancun, Mexico operated from Newcastle.

2010 - 2019


Thomson Airways retires the Boeing 757-200 from use at Newcastle Airport and becomes a full Boeing 737-800 base.

Thomson Holidays gave the North East public the opportunity to name one of their new Thomson Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. A competition was hosted by the Steve and Karen Breakfast Show on Metro Radio, with ‘Angel of the Sky’ chosen as the winner by radio listeners.

The first Thomson Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight took off from Newcastle to Orlando, Florida and Cancun, Mexico. The new aircraft improved the passenger experience.

Thomson Holidays’ flagship shop in Gateshead’s MetroCentre Shopping Centre was relocated within the shopping centre. A new Thomson Holiday Design Store opened in the shopping centre’s platinum mall, which included new in-store digital content features to offer customers holiday inspiration.

Thomson Holidays and Thomson Airways rebranded as TUI, the name we know today.

2020 - Looking the Future


The aviation industry embarks on its biggest ever crisis with the coronavirus pandemic.

Following the relaxation of some international travel restrictions in May 2021, TUI was the first airline to resume leisure flights from Newcastle International Airport. The first flight was operated by the airline’s current Managing Director, Malcolm Sutherland.

TUI operates it biggest ever flight and holiday programme in its 60 year history from Newcastle International Airport. Extra flights and holidays to popular destinations are added, including Greece, Turkey, the Canaries, Croatia, Egypt, and Florida. Long haul flights from Newcastle to Orlando Florida and Cancun also resume following a 2 year hiatus due to COVID-19.

Long haul flights resume from Newcastle Airport following a 2 year pause due to COVID-19.

The first fly-cruises will depart from Newcastle International Airport to the USA with Marella Cruises. The exciting holiday itinerary will sail from Florida, taking passengers to the Dominican Republic, Miami, the Bahamas, and New York City.