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British Airways launches four new routes from Belfast City Airport

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As we covered over the weekend, Aer Lingus Regional – run as a franchise by Stobart Air – collapsed into administration on Friday evening.

The airline was currently running twelve routes. Six were from Dublin, mainly providing connecting traffic to Aer Lingus services, and six were from Belfast City.

BA CityFlyer, which runs services from London City Airport using a fleet of Embraer E190 aircraft, has stepped in to fill some of the gaps from Belfast City.

British Airways launches four new routes from Belfast City Airport

These are the new routes being launched by BA CityFlyer:

  • Belfast City – Leeds Bradford, 6 flights per week, 16 June – 31 August 2021
  • Belfast City – Exeter, 4 flights per week, 16 June – 30 August 2021
  • Belfast City – Newquay, 2 flights per week, 3 July – 28 August 2021
  • Belfast City – Glasgow, 6 flights per week, 2 August – 31 August 2021

The existing routes between Belfast City and Heathrow (BA mainline) and Belfast City and London City (BA CityFlyer) will continue.

Aer Lingus will operate the ex-Stobart Art services between Belfast and Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham using larger mainline aircraft.

What happens after 31st August?

Good question.

The new Aer Lingus Regional franchise contract with Emerald Airlines isn’t meant to begin until the end of 2022.

As BA CityFlyer will still not be operating a full schedule from September, it is presumably cheaper for IAG to continue these routes using a group company – eg CityFlyer – rather than pay someone else to run them. That said, as these routes don’t provide any connecting traffic, they will stand or fall on their ability to sell point to point tickets.

It makes little sense for BA CityFlyer to run, long term, four regional routes from Belfast to the UK whilst Aer Lingus runs three other UK regional routes alongside them.

What COULD happen is that BA CityFlyer begins to run triangular services. It could, for example, fly from Belfast City to Leeds Bradford, and then Leeds Bradford to London City, and then back to Belfast City, and vice versa. Exeter and Leeds Bradford could (re)gain British Airways flights to London.

Is it likely? Frankly, I don’t think anyone has a clue how aviation demand will look next year, but with the furlough scheme winding up a decision will need to be made on the size and shape of the BA pilot and cabin crew fleets.

Tickets for the routes above are now bookable at ba.com, for cash or Avios.


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Comments (27)

  • Mike79 says:

    Interestingly all the new flights on Aer Lingus from Belfast have disappeared overnight from their website as I was looking at a quick break end of the month. Maybe they have changed their mind?

    • Colin says:

      Yes, noticed that myself Mike. Some very strange goings on with the Aer Lingus website ex BHD. Also interesting that none of the various reports seem to refer to the summer BHD/CWL flights which were Stobart Air. The other routes have been re-scheduled with either BA CityFlyer or Aer Lingus mainline, I have a July booking BHD/CWL/BHD which still shows as `live` on manage booking but the website shows `sold out` which is usually a euphemism for `we are about to cancel but haven`t got round to telling you yet`. Phoned AL reservations on Tuesday and was told that if still showing on manage booking, it was operating. When I explained about it being Stobart Air/website showing sold out, the lady went to speak with a supervisor and came back to say ….. “we just don`t know and you`ll have to keep checking”. Good fun.

      • Paul says:

        I read on another website that I won’t name on here, people asking for legal advice for claims for expenses incurred over the weekend as Aer Lingus has sent them Stobart Air’s way claiming they are a separate airline and Aer Lingus aren’t responsible. I would of thought Aer Lingus would be liable for it all but maybe that’s a benefit of getting another airline to operate your routes, compensation etc falls on the other airline not you.

        • Rob says:

          If Aer Lingus sold you the ticket then I’m sure they are liable. If you bought it anywhere else, legally they are probably not liable.

          • Mike79 says:

            I’ve seen some comments on other sites the last couple of days with people being refused by Aer Lingus. Guess their only option would be small claims as like Rob said Aer Lingus should be liable if people booked with them otherwise all the airlines would contract out their flight operations if it absolved them of their liabilities.

  • Memesweeper says:

    Weirdly for a BACF service, on the dates I’ve checked, these are economy only.

    • Nick says:

      Not weird at all. Most of the BACF charters are economy only and they have a lot of experience running that type of service. Given that these ‘new’ flights are directly replacing Stobart ones, and those didn’t have Club equivalent either, I would be more surprised if these did have it.

      • Sam G says:

        Might be an issue catering out of Belfast too, even if there is a facility not worth setting up a contract for so few seats per day

      • Richie says:

        BTW For clarification BACF charter flights don’t have BA/BAW flight numbers, they only have CJ/CFE flight numbers.

  • Stu N says:

    We have Edinburgh – Belfast booked for end of August. No longer on sale but our booking is live and offering bags/ seats etc. Seat map is still the ATR72s that Stobart flew.

    Given Stobart only collapsed over the weekend, I expect Aer Lingus are focusing on flights for this week and next and will get to later ones in due course.

    The GLA-BHD-NQY might be an interesting TP run if BA don’t extend status again…

  • Kevin says:

    There’s a rather bruising typo of name of Ireland’s national carrier in the first paragraph. It’s correctly elsewhere in piece.

  • barry cutters says:

    Am i corect in thinking there is no isolation or testing requirement for NI?

  • martin says:

    I’ve not been on a triangular route for quite some time, but my main memories of them are of an inattentive passenger getting off a stop too early, followed by everyone else having to go down to the apron to positively identify their bag.

    • Rich says:

      I think the last one I went on was NCL-CWL-NQY-NCL, when Air Wales merged with Air Southwest. One airline sold the A/B seats, and the other sold C/D!

      • Nick says:

        A triangle route today tends to refer to the aircraft, not pax. So it will be 3 separate flights, not one flight with two stops, and everyone gets off at the ‘calling point’. You probably don’t realise (as they hide it very well) but easyJet has huge numbers of these flights, or at least they did before brexit stopped a lot of them (e.g. LPL-NCE/NCE-BCN/BCN-LPL ran for a decade but almost no one ever noticed).

  • Jonny Price says:

    It would be brilliant if this was part of a longer term return of regular BA regional domestic flights, but I somehow doubt it. Everything new CityFlyer operates fits around their London City network (whether that is weekend flights from Southampton, which includes a one per week Southampton – Edinburgh flight) or these new routes from Belfast City. Looks like these new routes will be operated from London City (eg: LCY-BHD-LBA-BHD-LCY) so any return of Leeds to London or Exeter to London is unlikely.

    • Sam G says:

      The complexity it adds (remote crew bases or hotels) probably makes the routes uneconomical

      You are right though the flights are mainly part of single trips & clever scheduling from LCY to limit crew nightstops – e.g. Monday is

      Aircraft 1) LCY-BHD-LBA-BHD-LCY
      Aircraft 2) LCY-BHD-EXT-BHD-LCY
      Aircraft 3) LCY-BHD-GLA-LCY
      Aircraft 4) LCY-GLA-BHD-LCY

      Looks like an aircraft then stops over for the weekend instead of going back to London on Friday night, operating BHD-NQY-BHD-EXT-BHD on Saturday and BHD-LBA-BHD-EXT-BHD-LCY on Sunday

    • Richie says:

      It’s very difficult to say. They have a good number of aircraft to utilise and with Crossrail eventually opening sometime, BACF could have flights that are very different to pre-pandemic operations.

  • Richie says:

    It appears easyJet has launched some flights as response to this ie LGW-BHD. Don’t forget easyJet’s included hand luggage allowance is poor.

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