October 17, 2017 / 11:04 PM / a year ago

Travel company TUI plans extra flight capacity after Monarch failure

* TUI laid on more flights after Monarch collapse

* Tunisia holidays unlikely to resume until next winter -MD

* Thomson rebranded as TUI UK

By Alistair Smout

LONDON, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Europe's largest tour operator TUI is putting on extra flights to make up for capacity lost after this month's collapse of Monarch, TUI's UK and Ireland boss said on Wednesday.

Shares of leading travel companies and airlines rose after Monarch went bust, with investors betting that intense competition in the sector could ease.

At an event to announce TUI's rebranding of its UK operation to TUI UK from Thomson, the company's UK and Ireland Managing Director Nick Longman said it had already laid on extra flights and is looking to add more.

"There will be an opportunity to look at putting some new routes on to the market. We've already done that a little for this winter," Longman told Reuters, adding that TUI is also looking at more routes for next summer.

Unlike British Airways owner IAG and budget airline easyJet, TUI is not interested in acquiring Monarch slots at UK airports, Longman said, adding that extra capacity could be obtained from TUI's existing slot base and by working with other airline partners.

Monarch fell victim to an intense price war in the airline sector after security concerns disrupted travel to the Middle East and North Africa and resulted in increased competition on popular destinations in the western Mediterranean.

TUI has said that it is looking at restoring holidays to Tunisia. All holidays there were halted after an Islamist attack on a resort in Sousse killed 30 Britons who had booked their holidays through TUI.

Rival Thomas Cook has already restarted its Tunisian holidays after Britain changed its travel advice.

"If there is sufficient consumer demand ... then we will introduce a programme to Tunisia. We'll possibly look at it for summer, but more likely it will be next winter," Longman said.

Another destination that has been disrupted is the Carribean after a particularly violent hurricane season.

Longman said that while some ports, such as in Dominica, would be out of action into next year, he does not expect a long-term impact on travel to the region.

The rebranding exercise brings the end of a famnous British travel brand in Thomson, which was founded in 1965. Longman said that Thomson had a strong brand but has become outdated as travel habits have moved away from traditional package holidays towards city and long-haul breaks.

"Thomson conjures up great nostalgia for many people. But that can also be a bit limiting, and the types of holidays people want are changing," he said.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by David Goodman

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