Belfast Telegraph

A second customer flies in for bmibaby

By Margaret Canning

Low cost airline bmibaby has attracted a second suitor as its parent company continues a bid to off-load the carrier.

Bmibaby, which flies out of George Belfast Belfast City Airport to three UK airports and seven continental destinations, is now being considered by an 'EU-based airline group'.

A spokeswoman for bmibaby said the unidentified party had operations in "several countries" across Europe.

Under a 'term sheet' setting out details of a potential sale, the party would acquire 100% of Bmibaby's shares as well as its fleet of aircraft and its route network.

Staff would also be kept on.

Details of a similar term sheet with a different airline, this time based in the UK, were disclosed last month by owner BMI, itself the subject of a sale to British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG).

In January German airline Intro Aviation was also reported to be interested in bmibaby.

The spokeswoman said: "BMI plans to sign a definitive sale purchase agreement with one of the parties in the next few weeks.

"The completion of the transaction would occur shortly after this, subject to receiving all the necessary approvals."

Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, chief executive of BMI, said: "Bmibaby has attracted a great level of interest and our discussions open up great future prospects for the airline and its employees.

"Bmibaby is now seeing its highest ever levels of customer satisfaction, is achieving great on time performance and has an extremely dedicated and passionate team.

"The new owner would have the chance to build on this success providing a positive future for the business."

The company said the bmibaby brand name would be used for an "interim period" while head office would remain in the East Midlands.

The spokeswoman said the parties had agreed not to disclose any financial aspects of the planned transaction.

Meanwhile, the Office of Fair Trading said it won't make a request to the European Commission for a UK review of the proposed £172.5m sale of BMI to British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG).

However, OFT said it would continue working with the European Commission as it assesses whether the transaction raises competition concerns for passengers.