Corsair Boeing 747-422. CC BY-SA 2.0.

LONDON – The TUI Group has announced that a sale for French-based carrier Corsair has been made.

German aviation investor INTRO Aviation will be the company to now be in charge of the airline.

This is another step of TUI’s approach to become a “pure play Tourism” company.

Commenting on the sale was TUI CEO Fritz Joussen who stated the reasoning behind the sale as a vision to “consistently transforming TUI”.

“Here, we are investing in hotels and cruise ships, and increasingly in holiday experiences in the destinations. These are segments in which we are growing, and where we are continuing to expand our global activities. We are exiting non-core business areas that do not leverage any synergies for the Group. The sale is the right move for TUI and will also benefit Corsair and its staff,”

Under the deal, INTRO will acquire a majority 53% stake in the airline as a first step. The agreement also states that TUI will retain a minority stake of 27% in the carrier, with the Employee Benefit Trust holding a 20% stake.

It is unclear how much money has been spent on this sale by INTRO Aviation as it hasn’t been disclosed at this time.

TUI stated another reason for selling Corsair as an inability “to delivery any synergy effects for TUI Group, TUI tour operators and cruise companies, and the Group’s five European charter airlines”.

INTRO Aviation will also acquire seven long-haul aircraft from TUI as a result, being Corsair’s three Boeing 747-400s, two Airbus A330-200s and two A330-300s accordingly.

Corsair was founded in May 1981 as Corse Air International by the Corsican Rossi family and has been based at Paris Orly since operating to 12 destinations.

In the 1990s, the firm was acquired by Nouvelles Frontieres, a tour operator that then changed the carrier’s name to Corsair. By 1991, the airline successfully gained worldwide traffic rights to operate.

Just nine years later, TUI AG took over Nouvelles and therefore gained control of the airline.

The airline held a record for most seats on a passenger aircraft at 587 seats on its Boeing 747-400s until cabin refits brought the capacity back down to 533.

A Turbulent Decade…

It could be suggested that the TUI Group are in a level of relief to sell the airline, especially with the last ten years not being very easy for Corsair.

May 2010 saw the airline announce the “Takeoff 2012” modernisation plan, which had aims to reduce the workforce by a quarter, the replacement of three Boeing 747-400s with Airbus A330-300s, the refurbishment of all aircraft cabins, leaving the charter market, and termination of routes to the likes of Kenya, Dominican Republic, Quebec City, Moncton and Israel.

This was ultimately costing the carrier chunks of money, hence the plans in the first place.

March 2012 saw the airline name change again to Corsair International, with a brand new livery to correspond with the new operational changes that were put in place at the time.

2015 was the first time that the TUI Group tried to sell the airline, which was undergoing heavy losses.

There were talks with Air Caraibes for a take-over bid but the deal didn’t formulate positively as advanced talks with Corsair’s staff unions were voicing opposition as it would result in further cost reductions and layoffs.

In that same year, the TUI Group announced that all TUI companies with the exception of Corsair would be able to use the TUI name.

Earlier last year saw the talks begin with INTRO Aviation over selling the loss-making airline to them.

Finally, May 2018 saw the airline announcing it would retire the last three Boeing 747-400s by September 2021 due to fleet renewal and replacement plans.

The airline has not confirmed which aircraft will be substituting the outgoing jumbo jets, but speculation suggests Airbus A350-900 or -1000s as replacements.

Whilst it is unclear the actual depth of loss that the airline is going through, it obviously suggests it is negative enough for the likes of TUI, a very successful conglomerate to sell off the airline.

All eyes now will be on INTRO Aviation to see whether it can turn the airline around into a profit as soon as feasibly possible.

That being said, fleet renewal will be another big thing on their agenda, especially with upcoming aircraft retirements in the next two years.