What future for bmibaby under Lufthansa ownership? New focus is on Midlands and Belfast City
Born in 2002, bmibaby carried almost 4.3 million passengers in 2007, but since then has seen its passenger numbers decline each year to just 2.3 million in 2010, when its fleet consisted of 11 737-300s and three 737-500s. When anna.aero last analysed bmibaby, there was little to choose between the airline’s four main bases of Birmingham, Cardiff, East Midlands, and Manchester in terms of the number of destinations served.
Since then, the airline has made a clear commitment to focus on East Midlands (especially after rival easyJet pulled out of the airport in early 2010) and has announced plans to make Belfast City a significant base (after Ryanair pulled out of the airport). Routes and capacity have already been cut at Cardiff and Manchester airports, leaving the airline this summer with a network of 52 routes, 22 of which are from East Midlands, followed by Manchester (12), Birmingham (9), Cardiff (8) and the airline’s first service in several years to London (Stansted) from Belfast City. Of the 52 routes, 11 are between UK airports, but they account for a significant 35% of the airline’s total flights.
bmibaby transferred its four domestic routes (one from each of its bases) from Belfast International to Belfast City on 1 January of this year and then added London Stansted flights at the end of March. As a result, in terms of weekly departures, Belfast City already ranks above Manchester and Cardiff and will soon pass Birmingham for second place.
The leading mainland European destinations this summer are Amsterdam, and four well-established ‘summer sun’ destinations (Palma, Malaga, Alicante and Faro), of which only Palma is served from all four current UK bases. In total, bmibaby is operating to and from 36 destinations this summer, including eight that receive just two weekly flights (Bordeaux, Dubrovnik, Geneva, Lisbon, Malta, Montpellier, Tarbes/Lourdes and Verona) and two (Alghero and Almeria) that receive just one. Montpellier services from Manchester started less than three weeks ago on 2 July.
Four new routes starting this winter, 12 next summer
A number of new routes have already been announced for this winter and next summer. These 16 routes will make Belfast City the airline’s second biggest airport and further consolidate East Midlands as the airline’s number one base.
- From Belfast City to: Amsterdam (6/week from 31 October 2011), Geneva (2/week from 17 December 2011), Faro (2/week from 25 March 2012), Malaga (3/week from 25 March 2012), Alicante (3/week from 26 March 2012), Palma de Mallorca (2/week from 27 March 2012), Ibiza (1/week from 26 May 2012).
- From Birmingham to: Barcelona (4/week from 29 March 2012), Rome Fiumicino (4/week from 30 March 2012), Lisbon (3/week from 31 March 2012).
- From East Midlands to: Chambery (2/week from 16 December 2011), Toulouse (1/week from 23 December 2011), Gibraltar (3/week from 31 March 2012), Murcia (3/week from 31 March 2012), Naples (2/week from 1 April 2012), Corfu (1/week from 28 May 2012).
The airline’s only flights to Germany (home of parent company Lufthansa) are from East Midlands to Cologne/Bonn and Munich. The Cologne/Bonn flights were launched last October, initially as seasonal winter flights. However, the airline announced in May that from this winter the route would operate year-round with four weekly flights. Munich was originally served in 2002-03 from East Midlands (as well as briefly from Cardiff in 2003) but was re-launched from East Midlands last September. This autumn flights will again operate from mid-September (to coincide with the start of the famous Oktoberfest in Munich) through to the end of March, but with a four-and-a-half week gap in January and early February.