A leading holiday firm chief executive has told North East business leaders how the travel industry is flying high post-recession.
Chris Browne, chief executive of Thomson Airways, was speaking to around 170 of the region’s company bosses at the North East Chamber of Commerce’s President’s Club held at the home of the Newcastle Falcons’ base in Kingston Park.
Browne, who has worked in the travel industry since 1984, described how the recession had hit the industry much harder than previous economic downturns, but that Thomson had emerged from the period to achieve record profits of more than £250m last year.
She said: “I’ve always enjoyed coming to the North East and will be back later in the month when the Dreamliner (Boeing’s 787 aircraft) begins flights from Newcastle International Airport.
“Regions are very important to us and we are passionate advocates of regional services. The Dreamliner’s arrival in Newcastle is an important moment for both Thomson Airways and our links with the airport.”
Born in County Tyrone, Browne started her career in 1984 at Marsans Travel, a Spanish holiday company, in London. In 1986 she joined Iberia Airlines, working first in the ticket office in Regent Street.
By 1991 she had risen to general manager for the UK and Ireland and in 1996 joined Carlson World choice, the travel agent, and then moved on to First Choice.
In 2002 she became managing director of First Choice Airways in Manchester and joined Thomson Airways — a merger between First Choice and Thomsonfly that created Britain’s third-largest airline — in 2007.
NECC president Dave Laws, said: “I have known Chris for a long time and it is always a huge pleasure to welcome her back to our region. She has overseen tremendous growth at Thomson Airways, which has gone from strength to strength under her stewardship.
“President’s Club has had some great speakers over the last year and each one brings unique insight, experience and some great stories to the events. Chris was no different and I look forward to seeing her again when we launch the Dreamliner service in the coming weeks.”
The event was sponsored by Gateshead College, Deputy Principal, Judith Doyle, said: “I am proud that Gateshead College could support this fantastic event. We are very much a business and our business happens to be education.
“Like every other business we need to build and strengthen our operation and we feel very much at home in President’s Club.”
NECC President’s Club represents over 250 companies and organisations from a wide-range of sectors including services, manufacturing, education, and professional, to local authorities, housing groups and the public sector.
Established in late 2010 its members employ around 25% of the region’s workforce. Three President’s Clubs are held each year with over 150 attendees for each event.