Bmibaby picks up Belfast route
Flights from George Best Belfast City Airport to Stansted are set for take-off again after a budget airline announced it was taking on the discontinued route.
Bmibaby will fly to the London airport 16 times a week from March.
The move restores one of the last remaining services that were grounded when Ryanair pulled out of the airport in October in frustration over planning delays in approving controversial runway extension plans.
Ryanair had carried 900,000 passengers a year through Belfast City, but on the back of bmibaby's announcement airport bosses are confident that shortfall has now been all but wiped out.
Last month the operator announced it was shifting its Northern Ireland base from Aldergrove to Belfast City. Its Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and East Midlands services will move to the east Belfast facility in January.
Bmibaby's parent company British Midland International already operates a route to Heathrow from Belfast City.
Bmibaby managing director Julian Carr made the latest announcement at the airport.
"We currently offer a range of domestic routes from Belfast to key UK regions and this new London route will complement these services providing our customers with even more choice," he said.
Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, chief executive officer of British Midland International (bmi), said: "The new bmibaby route to Stansted Airport will complement bmi's service to Heathrow. Our customers will now have the choice of a full service carrier to Heathrow, or a low cost offering to Stansted Airport.
Katy Best, business development director at George Best Belfast City Airport, welcomed the move. "Belfast City Airport to Stansted has been one of the most popular routes served in the last few years, and bmibaby's announcement is an early Christmas present for the Northern Ireland traveller," she said.