Welcome to Birmingham. On 16 December Romanian hybrid carrier Blue Air launched its second route to Birmingham, a 1,923-kilometre link from Cluj-Napoca. In March the carrier inaugurated services to the UK airport from Bucharest. Seen celebrating the airline's second service to Birmingham, one that coincidentally links the second cities of Romania and the UK, are: Vlad Cristescu, Network Development Executive, Blue Air; Paul Kehoe, CEO, Birmingham Airport; Adam Parker, Aviation Strategy & Forecasting Manager, Birmingham Airport; and Jonathan Ford, Assistant Editor, anna.aero.
On 16 December Blue Air launched its latest route from its Cluj-Napoca base to Birmingham. The carrier will link the second cities of Romania and the UK with a three times weekly service (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays). Commenting on the launch, Tudor Constantinescu, CCO of Blue Air, said: "It is indeed a proud moment for us at Blue Air to enhance our presence at Birmingham with the addition of a three times weekly service from the heart of Transylvania – Cluj-Napoca. The West Midlands is an important market for us, building our position at the airport demonstrates an ongoing commitment to Birmingham as a valuable part of the Blue Air family. One of the key opportunities at this airport is the mixture of leisure and business passengers allowing a strong volume of traffic all year round."
This becomes the UK airport’s second Blue Air route, with the carrier having launched flights to Birmingham in March from Bucharest. That route started at a twice-weekly frequency, but for the winter season the service has increased to three times weekly. For next summer – due to demand – the link from the Romanian capital will grow to four times weekly. Additionally from 27 March, the hybrid carrier will introduce its third route into Birmingham, this time from its Larnaca base, a sector that will also be served three times weekly (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays).
A few months ago at World Routes in Chengdu, anna.aero’s Assistant Editor Jonathan Ford was invited by Blue Air’s Network Development Executive Vlad Cristescu to attend the inaugural ceremony for the new route, and to also be on the first flight. With invite firm in-hand, Ford was soon on his way to Romania to enjoy the celebrations of the airline’s latest route.
A brief history of Blue Air at Cluj-Napoca
Blue Air currently has one aircraft stationed in Cluj-Napoca, with it becoming a base for the airline in October this year. By the start of S17, when a second aircraft will also become based in Romania’s second city, the following destinations will be served directly from Cluj-Napoca by Blue Air: Birmingham, Bucharest, Constanta (begins 15 June), Dublin, Hamburg (3 June), Iasi, Larnaca (begins 9 April), Liverpool, London Luton (26 March), Nice (10 April) and Timisoara. All new routes, except Constanta, will be flown on the airline’s second-based 737-800.
Launch information for S17 routes
Below is a table highlighting the next routes to be launched by Blue Air from Cluj-Napoca, including their days of operation.
||Days of operation
|London Luton (LTN)
13 December celebrations
Not only is this the week in which Blue Air launched its latest route from Cluj-Napoca, but it is also the week in which the airline is celebrating its 12th anniversary, with that having been on 13 December. Since its launch the airline has carried 16.7 million passengers, which is equivalent to 75% of the total Romanian population. Its aircraft have flown a total of 218,899,675 kilometres, which is equivalent to going around the world 5,462 times. Finally these aircraft have spent 385,352 hours in the air, or written another way – 44 years.
Monika Andrea Varteniuc, Ticketing Agent at Blue Air’s Cluj-Napoca base; and Vlad Cristescu Network Development Executive, Blue Air, promote the airline’s inaugural service to Birmingham at the airline’s new ticketing office at the Romanian airport. Blue Air has recently opened up the new ticketing centre, and has hired a young and talented team made-up of four people to help the airline's customers. Also on the board being showcased is the new route to Larnaca that will start on the 9 April from Cluj-Napoca. The Cypriot airport will also be connected to Birmingham by Blue Air from 27 March.
Passengers check-in for the first flight to Birmingham. The scheduled departure time for the first flight was 10:20.
Yum yum yum! Once through security, it was time for the formal celebrations for first flight to Birmingham to take place. Cluj-Napoca had commissioned these scrumptious chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing for the inaugural flight, with them showcasing the new route through the airports' IATA codes. anna.aero's Ford can confirm that they were indeed delicious.
Enjoying the airport’s tasty cupcake are friends Nuha Anwar, Kanza Arifeen and Sonali Gulati, with all three originally from Birmingham and Coventry. The three, along with many other UK students, are studying medicine in Cluj-Napoca. All three were flying on the inaugural service to head home for Christmas and New Year.
Time to cut the ribbon! No route launch is complete without a ribbon cutting. Seen carrying out the route launch tradition in Cluj-Napoca are the airport's: Gabriela Zanc, Commercial Director; Iuliu Pop, Operational Director; Corina Florian, Economic Director; David Ciceo, CEO; and Vlad Cristescu, Network Development Executive, Blue Air.
Once the ribbon had been cut, it was then time for anna.aero to join in to help promote the new service. Showcasing the new three times weekly link to Birmingham, displaying the UK city's library to passengers (the biggest library in Europe) are Cristescu, Ciceo and Ford.
Once the terminal celebrations hand been completed, it was then time for further inauguration pictures to take place on the apron before boarding. Seen posing for the cameras are: Vasile Opris, Security Director, Cluj-Napoca Airport; Iuliu Pop, Operational Director, Cluj-Napoca Airport; and Vlad Cristescu, Network Development Executive, Blue Air. Also joining them for the celebrations were the inaugural crew: Iuliut Mera; Kevin Gire; Delia Gisca; Valentina Agache; Valentina Pop; and Oana Panican Nour.
During the flight, the crew handed out goodies to the first passengers. They would also do the same on the return flight from Birmingham to Cluj-Napoca. They included a Blue Air-branded pen and a seasonal book mark which said: 'Happy Holidays! Find yourself wherever you are.'
Landing in Birmingham. Blue Air's first flight between Cluj-Napoca and Birmingham would be landing on the UK airport's Runway 15. With this arrival, it meant flying over the airport from the south-side, giving great aerial views of the airport and indeed Birmingham's city centre.
What a water arch! Upon arrival in Birmingham, Blue Air's first service from Cluj-Napoca was greeted by a water arch salute from the 2015 champions of anna.aero's Arch of Triumph competition. The champions' award-winning arch skills were once again on show as they greeted the aircraft with a perfect leaping dolphins style FTWA. anna.aero was very fortunate to witness this feat from inside the aircraft. Once the baptism of the new route was completed, the 737-800 pulled onto stand, with one of Emirates' A380s being visible in the distance which had operated the lunchtime flight to Birmingham from Dubai.
On hand to welcome the first flight into Birmingham from Cluj-Napoca was the UK airport's CEO, Paul Kehoe. After greeting Cristescu, and the first passengers, it was then time for the official photos to be taken, accompanied by a Romanian flag and the UK airport's commissioned cupcakes. Kehoe commented on the launch of flights from Cluj-Napoca by saying: "Blue Air has had a very successful few months at Birmingham Airport flying thousands of passengers to and from the Romanian capital city of Bucharest. We are delighted that they are already introducing this second route to Cluj-Napoca. The Romanian city will be a popular city break destination for our passengers as it is a cultural and historic centre home to universities, great nightlife and landmarks dating to Saxon and Hungarian rule."
Once the official photos had been taken, both Kehoe and Cristescu handed out cupcakes to the 155 passengers bound for Cluj-Napoca. anna.aero's Assistant Editor Jonathan Ford would like to thank Cristescu for allowing him to be on the inaugural flight, along with the airport teams at both Birmingham and Cluj-Napoca for hosting excellent ceremonies to herald the new route.