End of era with last flight to Heathrow
Bmi moves link from Aldergrove to City Airport
By Robin Morton, Business Correspondent
IT will be the end of an era this weekend when the curtain comes down on the Aldergrove-Heathrow route.
Bmi british midland is centralising all its operations from Belfast International to the City Airport as of Monday.
The final flight will be the BD77, which departs from Aldergrove at 6.40pm on Sunday evening.
There has been an Aldergrove-Heathrow link since Aldergrove opened in 1963, and before then the service was based at the old Nutts Corner airport.
The route was originally operated by British European Airways and subsequently British Airways, but the BA Belfast Shuttle was axed in October 2001.
Bmi transferred most of its operation from Aldergrove to City Airport the same month and now the remaining three flights a day service from Aldergrove is being cut.
Bmi, which is developing a new lounge and airbridge at City Airport, said its service from Aldergrove was losing money.
At present, bmi operates a profitable eight flights each way per day service from City Airport to Heathrow, but there are no plans to increase frequency.
Austin Reid, the chief executive officer of bmi, said: "We have been operating services to and from Northern Ireland for more than 40 years, a record of commitment and dedication that is hard to match in these challenging times.
"There is clear market segmentation between the two airports in Belfast and the bmi group is in a position to respond positively and serve both markets to the benefit of Northern Ireland travellers.
"Some may be disappointed that we have confined our efforts and concentrated Heathrow services from one airport. "However, the reality is that to provide travellers to and from Northern Ireland with long term viable operations, we need to respond to market conditions."
While bmi is consolidating its position at City Airport, the airline's no-frills subsidiary bmibaby will operate from Belfast International.
At present bmibaby flies to Cardiff and East Midlands, while a Manchester route begins in May.