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Thomas Cook office in Oberursel, near Frankfurt, is seen in this March 17, 2003 file photo.

MICHAEL PROBST/AP

British travel group Thomas Cook Group PLC plans to merge its German, British and Belgian airline operations, appointing a new airline management board to run the business.

The world's oldest travel group said on Tuesday that Condor, its German airline brand, Thomas Cook Airlines UK and Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium would become one airline segment within the group from March 1.

The move is part of a turnaround plan, the effects of which began to kick-in late last year. The company, which was thrown a lifeline by lenders last May, has seen a steady improvement in its finances and a pick-up in demand in recent months.

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The new airline management board will be chaired jointly by Christoph Debus, group head of air travel, and Ralf Teckentrup, Condor's chief executive, the company said. Former easyJet and KLM executive Cor Vrieswijk will take the reins as chief operating officer of Thomas Cook Airlines UK next month.

"At time when the European airline industry is experiencing major change, we believe that our airline will be stronger as one integrated business," said Mr. Debus.

Frank Pullman will retire as managing director of Thomas Cook Airlines UK next month, the company said.

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