This is an interesting one. For those not in the know IAG (who own British Airways and Iberia) are looking to acquire Aer Lingus for a billion pounds.
Now both BA and AL having flights to London Heathrow flying from Belfast City Airport (I still can’t call it George Best for some reason). Interestingly there are no LHR flights from Belfast International (it serves Gatwick and Stanstead).
So Theresa is on the phone hoping that non of the operating flights will get shelved. Landing slots at Heathrow cost a lot of money to paying twice isn’t exactly great value for money.
IAG will see it that way too. Reducing operating costs is the name of the game and losing one of the airlines coming in to Belfast would make operational sense. Is either operator on a loss leader?
So best case: nothing changes.
Neutral case: both airlines reduce flight numbers in/out of BHD
Worst case: one of the airlines pulls out.
In my opinion BHD (and Theresa) should be looking to the airports that want to bring routes in to Belfast. Here they are:
- Allgau Airport Memmingen
- Billund Airport
- Bournemouth Airport
- Brussels Airport
- Budapest Airport
- Cambridge Airport
- Cologne Bonn Airport
- Coventry Airport
- Faro Airport
- Glasgow Prestwick
- London Oxford Airport
- Shannon Airport
- Región de Murcia International Airport
The issue here is that the above airports are all expressing an interest to land at BFS, not BHD, though at the right price I’m sure things can be worked out. Cambridge is an interesting one with the links to the tech scene (it’s not all TechCity in London) and Murcia, well two world class golf courses. A bit like Portrush but with more sun.
Whichever way you look at it, commercial aviation is about the bottom line and if an owner can save money based on demand forecasts then they will. Perhaps it’s time to look at the collaboration options with the other airports. Ultimately you’ll have a route to Heathrow regardless.