Just Thomas Cook It

The RAF’s A330 Voyager airborne refuelling and transport aircraft, as we all know, are not owned by the RAF but instead provided by the Airtanker Consortium comprising Babcock, Cobham, Airbus Group, Rolls Royce and Thales as what is I suppose, a managed service contract.

Part of the operating model is that when not being used, some of the aircraft can be chartered to other military and civilian operators.

From Air Tanker

AirTanker, the company behind the RAF Voyager (UK Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft) programme has agreed in principle a ground-breaking A330 civil leasing deal with Thomas Cook Airlines.

Under the terms of the three-year agreement, Thomas Cook Airlines will lease a single Airbus A330-200 from the AirTanker/FSTA ‘surge fleet”, to support long haul routes as part of its UK flying programme.

Flying under the new Thomas Cook Airlines livery, the aircraft will be operated by AirTanker under its civil Air Operator’s Certificate from May 2015 in support of scheduled routes from Glasgow, Manchester and Stansted to Las Vegas, Cancun and Orlando

Stop laughing and read more…

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/07/the-pros-and-7-cons-of-an-raf-voyager/”] [browser-shot width=”600″ url=”https://www.airtanker.co.uk/news-centre/news-item/2014/06/24/airtanker-and-thomas-cook-airlines-agree-landmark-civil-leasing-deal”] [browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.airtanker.co.uk/”] [browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.thomascook.com”] [browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.thomascookgroup.com”]




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June 24, 2014 10:04 am

Sir Thomas Cook’s steamers took the Nile Expedition to relieve the Siege of Khartoum.

The Other Monty
The Other Monty
June 24, 2014 10:04 am

My immediate thought is: probably more comfortable than the average package flight. And even a C130 beats Ryanair for me. What’s seat pitch like on Voyager?

June 24, 2014 10:13 am

Presumably they will go to war in that fetching lo-vis white & yellow paint job.

Ian Hall
Ian Hall
June 24, 2014 10:16 am

What a great idea, perhaps we could lease our tanks to Club 18-30, go down a bomb (pun intended) on the Faliraki Strip in Rhodes.

Peter Elliott
June 24, 2014 10:31 am

So long as it has the appropiate get-out clause that allow MoD to call the asset back at short notice in the event that a surge is needed: no problem.

June 24, 2014 11:05 am

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. Unfortunately, your Thomas Cook flight has been diverted by an urgent operational requirement. We are now going to Camp Bastion where you will reinforce British Forces in Afghanistan for the next two weeks. We apologise for this change in schedule, but we haven’t been able to recruit enough Reserve Army soldiers.”

Radish 293
Radish 293
June 24, 2014 11:32 am

Monty thats fantastic

June 24, 2014 11:58 am

@ Monty

Brilliant but scarily as someone who is trying to join the reserves I can tell your joke might soon become a reality. Uphill battle which I have seen many people give up trying

June 24, 2014 12:02 pm

Monty, you might just start a new fad! :)

They use to call it shanghaied. From now on, we shall call it Lashka Gared.

“Dear, I got Lashkagared to Afghanistan, will be a bit late for dinner…”

June 24, 2014 12:22 pm

My problem with the whole AirTanker situation concerns the varied state of the core fleet available currently to the RAF . One is still Civil registered undertaking primarily flights to the Falklands . The remainder of the nine strong aircraft are of different marks . Some are two point tankers. Some are three . Once again, we have managed to develop ‘fleets within fleets ‘?
So we have to make sure the correct 3 point tanker is available to refuel larger aircraft such as E3 and c130 and A400, which the 2 point cannot ?
How about having a core fleet of 10 aircraft all of which are 3 point tankers. A common fleet to reduce logistical problems ?

The Other Chris
June 24, 2014 12:39 pm

There’s only two “variants”: KC2 and KC3. It denotes whether there’s a centreline refuelling system (Boom or a Hose & Drogue) fitted or not.

June 24, 2014 3:09 pm

@ Bucky

It’s not really a logs problem since that is the only difference and IIRC they are all plumbed in for the CL refuelling point, it’s more of an ops problem in having reduced flexibility.

Brian Black
Brian Black
June 24, 2014 10:23 pm

The Points class have spent years on Baltic and North Sea ferry routes, not utterly ridiculous.

What else could we have civilian companies hold onto for us?

Big green loggie trucks delivering soap powder to Sainsbury’s perhaps.

How much demand for those tank driving experiences are there? Is there enough stag party demand to support a Challenger squadron in the private sector?

And you could get quite a few pissed slappers in the back of a pimped-out Mastiff.

Maybe drill a few port holes into one of the aircraft carriers, and give it a smart cruise ship paint job.

June 25, 2014 3:53 pm

@Brian Black – Think of all the room for shuffleboard, badminton, tennis, cricket, and basketball on the new HMS Prince of Wales! You might even have room for polo! Of course you might have to rename the carrier HMS Princess of Wales if Princess Cruises gets the contract…

Ian Hall
Ian Hall
June 26, 2014 6:39 am
Reply to  Kent

There are all sorts of other money making options, perhaps the MoD could offer days with the SAS as incentives for team building, create a chain of Gurkha Tandooris (run by serving Ghurkas) or how about offering sponsorship?
“Today we present Barclay’s Bank Trooping The Colour” or maybe HMS Royal Bank of Scotland?
On second thoughts let’s not mention Scotland.

John Hartley
John Hartley
June 26, 2014 9:10 am

I have long wanted everyone connected with the AirTanker abomination to be hanged for treason, so its not something I can be impartial about. Thomas Cook will only be able to fly to safe destinations like Miami, Orlando, Las Vegas, as the RAF equipment left onboard will be too sensitive to fly to places like Cuba.
I would sell off the 3 airliner Voyagers & replace them with the new updated A330 MRTT due in a couple of years. An outright purchase of 3 A330 with a cargo door, underwing hose units + a centreline advanced flying boom.

Oscar Zulu
Oscar Zulu
June 27, 2014 12:35 pm

@ John Hartley

You mean like this?


RAAF has just announced FOC for the JASSM (same size warhead as Storm Shadow but slightly shorter range for standard RAAF JASSM, although the JASSM ER fielded by USAF out ranges Storm Shadow).

So this pic would represent a handy regional strike package with a couple of JASSM slung under each Hornet. Especially accompanied by a flight of Super Hornets flying CAP/OCA and Growler or two for SEAD/DEAD with an E7 Wedgetail providing the big picture.

Now if we only had enough airframes to generate repeated sorties…

Also on the missile front, flight trials are underway of RAAF Super Hornets fitted with Harpoon missiles.


Interesting (but sensible) development since the RAAF initially disavowed any intention to integrate Harpoon on the Supers, public stating that it was sufficient that Harpoon could be delivered by other platforms (Classic Hornet and AP3C) for the maritime strike role and relying on the JSOW stand off weapon instead.

New toys for the blue water boys too. The second of the ANZAC frigates, HMAS Arunta, to undergo the AMSD conversion (CEAFAR phased array radar and upgraded SAAB combat system) is undergoing sea trials. Two down – six to go.


Though Canberra’s entry into service has been delayed six months. Seems the civilian clowns conducting sea trials hadn’t read the bit in the manual where it said that above 8 knots the azipods shouldn’t be pointed in different directions simultaneously. Shook the buggery out of the ship and damaged the azipod motors. Hope the contractors have a good insurance policy.