Belfast Telegraph

Bmi targets Ryanair’s Belfast City Airport slots

By Anne Madden

Airline bmi has appointed Belfast woman Brenda Morgan as sales manager Ireland following a restructure of the company.

The 40-year-old has steered the Belfast City to London Heathrow route to become one of the most successful destinations within the bmi portfolio. However, the company has expanded her role to include the Dublin to Heathrow route, bringing the two markets closer together.

Ms Morgan’s main responsibility is retaining and growing the bmi market share on both London Heathrow routes and the onward international network, both for bmi and Star Alliance.

German airline Lufthansa bought bmi last year and it is part of the Star Alliance network which includes 27 airlines.

The new sales manager revealed that Lufthansa is set to invest £50m in bmi as a group over the next year which will benefit Belfast.

“Belfast is one of the most profitable routes within the bmi network,” she said. “It has been a very difficult year for the airline industry, especially after the ash cloud problems earlier this year. But despite that we have had an exceptional July with passenger numbers up 10%.”

Due to oversaturated capacity in the London market, bmi dropped one of its seven flights a day from Belfast earlier this year. “We are very busy on our peak flights where we have a lot of business passengers but we are looking to increase our leisure market,” Ms Morgan said. The airline expects to attract passengers who would have flown with Ryanair. The budget airline announced last week that it is pulling out of Belfast City Airport.

“We have a seat-sale coming up which will target that market,” Ms Morgan said.

She contrasted bmi’s commitment to Belfast with that of Ryanair.

“We have been serving Northern Ireland for 26 years and have invested heavily in our infrastructure here,” she said.

The sales manager described how bmi is keen to see Belfast City airport’s curfew for flights extended from 9.30pm to 10.30pm to co-ordinate with international connections from other Star Alliance airlines.

“We are sympathetic with residents’ concerns and have been working to address them,” Ms Morgan said.

“We could have taken the same stance as Ryanair but we believe you just don’t pull out because you haven’t been given what you want. After all this is a very strong, profitable route.”

The sales manager said bmi will work closely with tourist bodies and chambers of commerce north and south to increase visitors to Ireland both for leisure and conferences.

Belfast Telegraph