Agents in the Midlands have expressed their sadness at plans to shut loss-making airline Bmibaby.
The low-cost arm of Bmi will begin closing routes next month and will be grounded in September after new owner, British Airways’ parent International Airlines Group, failed to find a buyer for the airline. IAG began consulting 470 staff over redundancy on May 3.
Services from East Midlands to Amsterdam, Paris, Geneva, Nice, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newquay, and from Birmingham to Knock and Amsterdam, will end on June 11. All Belfast flights will stop on the same day.
Following the Bmibaby announcement, Monarch unveiled its plan to open a new base at East Midlands with flights to Malaga, Alicante, Palma and Faro. It will also increase frequency from Birmingham on existing routes to Malaga, Alicante, Faro, Rome and Palma and add new flights to Barcelona.
Agents said the closure of Bmibaby was a blow. Stourbridge-based Kinver Travel owner Sue Foxall said: “We are sorry to lose Bmibaby. We booked a considerable number of flights with them. Monarch is an excellent airline, but they’re not operating the routes or times to suit us.”
Kate Harris, managing director of Inspired Travel in Hinckley, echoed Foxall’s sentiments. “It’s going to be a dreadful shame when Bmibaby closes. Yet again, it’s less choice for clients and it’s such a popular airport,” she said.
However, other agents welcomed the chance to work with Monarch. Nick Bland, director at Leicester-based Millington Travel, said: “Monarch is more agent-friendly than Bmibaby so will be better for us to deal with.”
Alistair Rowland, group general manager of Midcounties Co-op, agreed: “We use Bmibaby but Monarch will be a bigger prize out of East Midlands.”
Jet2.com has also added eight routes from East Midlands, flying to Chambery and Geneva this winter and to Ibiza, Dubrovnik, Menorca, Nice, Larnaca and Gran Canaria for summer 2013. Plus a new Leeds Bradford-Grenoble route.