Chris Browne OBE (b.1961) is Managing Director of Thomson Airways and has achieved a number of significant ‘firsts’ throughout her career, including being the youngest and first female general manager for Iberia Airways.
Chris was born in Strabane, County Tyrone, and read modern languages at Queen’s University Belfast, followed by travel and tourism at Strathclyde University. She started her career in 1984 at Marsans Travel, a Spanish holiday company. In 1986 she joined Iberia Airlines, working first in the ticket office in Regent Street, and rising to become general manager for the UK and Ireland by 1991. She joined Carlson Worldchoice in 1996, and moved on to First Choice in 1999, where she became head of Air2000, the group’s airline. Briefed with turning the airline around against the turbulent backdrop of 9/11, Chris completely reshaped the fleet and returned the business to profit, rebranding it as First Choice Airways in the process.
Chris became Managing Director of First Choice Airways in Manchester from 2002-2007, when she led the merger of First Choice and Thomsonfly to create Britain’s third largest airline, Thomson Airways — an achievement she managed in just nine months. Since then, she has held the post of Managing Director for Thomson Airways, where she is responsible for a fleet of 57 aircraft and a team of 5,000 people. Under her leadership, Thomson Airways became the first UK carrier to sign up for the new industry-transforming Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft and in May 2013 was the first UK carrier to fly the new aircraft commercially.
In 2011, the University of Ulster awarded Chris the honorary degree of Doctor of Science (DSc) for management leadership. She was awarded an OBE in 2013.
Harold was honoured by the British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2014