Package holiday company Airtours has completed its hunt for a
public affairs consultancy by hiring the London and Brussels arms of
The public affairs and corporate positioning brief was awarded after a
three-way pitch and although unconfirmed, fees are thought to be in the
The account was confirmed last week and comes on the back of a brief
spell last year when APCO's European headquarters in Brussels helped the
travel firm navigate competition matters arising from its attempt to buy
The APCO work will be headed by London managing director Nick de Luca
and European chairman Brad Staples. The pair will report to Airtours
group communications director Anita McErlean and the company's
international relations director, Martin Brackenbury.
Airtours, the UK's largest package holiday seller, is one of twelve
members of the Federation of Tour Operators, whose chairman is
Brackenbury and which continues to use AS Biss for its lobbying
While Airtours has not retained a single public affairs agency in the
past, it has been promiscuous in its use of ad hoc lobbying support.
The company has used the public affairs arm of its retained corporate
and financial PR agency, Brunswick, to lobby on its behalf through-out
recent acquisition processes.
Airtours has also used AS Biss itself on a project basis and the
Brussels office of APCO in the later stages of its attempt to buy First
Choice. This was passsed without a referral to the Competition
Commission in the UK but was rejected by the authorities in Brussels
despite the work of APCO.
'Public affairs has moved up our list of priorities,' said McErlean.
'We now feel we need regular government relations support in a way we
have not had in the past'.
Foremost among the issues confronting Airtours is boosting its low
A source at APCO said: 'There is a recognition in the company that
political issues impact on their business and that they must start
engaging with the Government's agenda.'
The Government's White Paper on Aviation is expected within the next few
APCO's brief is expected to include assistance with the company's
contribution to that document.