Posted on Friday 4 May 2012 by Ulster Business

Bmibaby   Belfast

bmibaby recently celebrated its 10th birthday

George Best Belfast City Airport has been dealt a huge blow after it was confirmed that low cost airline bmibaby will cease flying from Belfast next month.

The decision had been widely expected after IAG, the owner of British Airways, purchased fellow UK carrier British Midland and said bmibaby was not part of its future plans.

IAG is now expected to close bmibaby by September, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.

Brian Ambrose, Chief Executive at George Best Belfast City Airport, said he was disappointed with the decision but confident other airlines would fill the routes that are vacated.

“From 11 June 2012, bmibaby will cease operations from Belfast City Airport.
“bmibaby has assured the airport that customers affected by these cancellations will be offered an alternative date of travel or will receive a full refund,” said Mr Ambrose.

Passengers who have booked to travel after 10 June 2012 are advised to contact bmibaby on 0844 245 0055 and the airport said it would work with airline partners to help passengers affected by cancellations.

Bmibaby, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, operated 11 routes from Belfast City: Birmingham, East Midlands, London Stansted, Amsterdam, Geneva, Malaga, Alicante, Palma, Faro, Ibiza, and Menorca.

The East Midlands-based airline had only recently started to fly to European destinations and it is understood these flights were proving popular with customers.

Brian Ambrose added: “Like thousands of passengers, we are very disappointed at this decision. Strong advanced bookings proved there was significant demand for the sunshine routes operated by bmibaby.

“However, I am confident that we can attract other airlines to the fill the routes vacated by bmibaby. Continuing private investment by the airport has made Belfast City Airport an attractive proposition for passengers and airlines alike.”

In 2010 Belfast City Airport lost almost a third of its revenue when budget carrier Ryanair pulled out of Belfast, but the airport had succeeded in building that back up.

In 2011, Belfast City Airport was used by 2.4 million passengers, approximately 420,000 of whom flew with bmibaby.

Bmi, the parent company of bmibaby, was reportedly losing as much as £3m a week before IAG stepped in with its takeover bid. Bmibaby has posted losses of around £100m over the last four years.

IAG purchased bmi from German airline Lufthansa for £172.5m, but that price had a significant discount – thought to be around £50m – built in should it fail to find a buyer for bmibaby. Two parties reportedly interested in purchasing it pulled out of the running last week.

Chief executive of IAG Willie Walsh has said that the key Belfast to Heathrow route which is bmi’s flagship service in Northern Ireland will be maintained.

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