Belfast Telegraph

bmibaby future uncertain following BA deal

By Graeme Evans and Margaret Canning

Uncertainty over the future of low-fare carrier bmibaby is continuing after the owner of BA completed its deal to buy BMI.

International Airlines Group (IAG), which owns BA and Iberia, will take on bmibaby and BMI Regional as part of its purchase agreement with Lufthansa, but does not intend to keep them.

bmibaby flies from George Best Belfast City Airport to East Midlands, Birmingham and Manchester airports and seven continental destinations. But it does not employ Belfast-based crew and relies on the services of ground handling agents for check-in and customer service in Belfast.

But if the airline is wound up by its new owners, it will result in less choice for passengers flying from Belfast. Rival airline Flybe flies from Belfast City to 17 UK routes, including East Midlands, Birmingham, Cardiff and Manchester.

IAG said it will run bmibaby and BMI Regional in the short-term while it looks at ways to exit the businesses.

BMI Regional offers short-haul flights from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, Manchester and East Midlands.

For IAG, the BMI deal will strengthen its position on long-haul routes out of Heathrow.

However, it has angered Sir Richard Branson of rival Virgin Atlantic, who vowed to fight “this monopoly every step of the way”.

The deal was approved by the European Commission last month, although IAG must give up 14 pairs of daily take-off and landing slots at Heathrow to boost competition in the sector.

Last week, IAG warned that the takeover of BMI was likely to lead to up to 1,200 job losses.

Flybe yesterday confirmed it had pulled out of City of Derry Airport after just a year.

Belfast Telegraph

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