bmi has today further demonstrated its commitment and investment in Northern Ireland with a number of business initiatives to improve passenger services. The moves will enable airlines within the bmi group to focus their efforts on developing services for travellers to and from both Belfast Airports.
bmibaby, the low cost arm of bmi, will be including Belfast International as a destination to be served from a new UK base to be announced shortly. This follows on from the successful launch by bmibaby of low cost flights to Cardiff and East Midlands from the airport last October. This will enable bmibaby to focus on a “low cost” strategy at Belfast International and allow bmi to concentrate its full service offering at Belfast City.
As part of this strategy, Heathrow services will from 3 March be confined to City Airport and services from International airport to Heathrow will be terminated on 2 March. However, at the same time there will be significant developments for passengers to Heathrow from Belfast City. These include the opening of a £1.5 million passenger lounge next month and the proposed introduction, subject to the airport authority obtaining approval to extend its hours of opening, of a later arrival flight into Belfast.
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. A clear picture has emerged of the market segmentation between the two airports and the structure of our business enables us to serve both those markets to the benefit of Northern Ireland travellers. 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. We will soon be serving more destinations from Northern Ireland than ever before.
“Some may be disappointed that we now have confined our efforts and concentrated Heathrow services from one airport. However, the reality is that in order to provide travellers to and from Northern Ireland with long term viable operations, we need to respond to market conditions.
At Belfast International, we see great potential for bmibaby in the ever-growing low cost market. Our services and facilities at Belfast City will ensure that the full service sector to Heathrow and the wide range of European and worldwide connections this brings, through our membership of Star Alliance, will ensure that the business community is also well served.
“bmi has been operating services to Ireland for nearly 50 years, a record of commitment and dedication that is hard to match in these challenging times. Our announcements today should be a clear indication to everyone that the actions we are taking will ensure, yet again, that we are dedicated to competing in a wide range of markets to the benefit of travellers to and from Northern Ireland
“There will be no job losses whatsoever amongst the 22 bmi people we have at the International Airport and discussions are under way about redeployment opportunities.”
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 reaccommodation by bmi is not acceptable, a refund will be available for flights paid for, but not used.