06/02/2003

bmi to concentrate services at Belfast City

bmi has announced that it is to discontinue its Heathrow service from Belfast International Airport (BIA) and concentrate resources in Belfast City Airport.

However, bmi will maintain a presence at BAI as bmibaby will be including Belfast International as a destination to be served from a new UK base to be announced shortly.

From March 3 Heathrow services will be confined to the City Airport and services from the International Airport to Heathrow will end on March 2. Ahead of the redeployment bmi is set to open a £1.5 million passenger lounge for Heathrow passengers at the City Airport next month.

The company has assured its 22 staff at BAI that there will be no job losses and discussions are under way about redeployment opportunities.

This will, say bmi, enable bmibaby to focus on a "low cost" strategy at Belfast International and allow the parent company to "concentrate its full service offering at Belfast City".

The low-cost airline believes that the strategy will "improve passenger services" and will enable airlines within the bmi group to focus their efforts on developing services for travellers to and from both Belfast Airports.

Austin Reid, bmi chief executive officer, said: "Today's announcements are a clear indication of our commitment to bmi services to and from Northern Ireland and the investment we are prepared to make. We are looking at a range of options for our third base for bmibaby on the UK mainland and I have every confidence that, irrespective of its location, Belfast International will be one of the destinations to be served.

He added: "Some may be disappointed that we now have confined our efforts and concentrated Heathrow services from one airport. However, in order to provide travellers to and from Northern Ireland with long-term viable operations, we need to respond to market conditions."

Albert Harrison, Managing Director of Belfast International Airport, said: "We are delighted by news of an imminent announcement by bmi baby to operate additional low-cost services from BIA as this firmly establishes Belfast International as the only choice airport for the growing low-cost market in Northern Ireland."

Passengers holding firm reservations for services from Belfast International Airport to London Heathrow will be rebooked on services to and from Belfast City Airport. If this re-accommodation by bmi is not acceptable, a refund will be available for flights paid for, but not used.

BIA continues to offer 15 flights and 2,235 seats a day to London Luton, Stansted and Gatwick.

(GMcG)

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