UK carrier bmi regional launched flights to the German city of Hamburg from Bristol Airport on February 11, 2013 marking the resumption of a key route to business and leisure travellers in South West England and South Wales. The inaugural flight departed with a delegation of business leaders from across the region keen to deepen relationships with counterparts in Hamburg to discuss strengthening business and tourism links between the two cities.
bmi regional revealed plans to introduce the Hamburg route in December 2012 alongside a new link from Bristol to Frankfurt. Hamburg is a new destination for the carrier, its 17th across its scheduled network, and is initially being served five times weekly but which will grow to 12 rotations per week from April 8, 2013.
“The launch of new services to Germany is a continuation of bmi regional’s promise to serve key economic and transport hubs to multiple destinations across Europe,” said Cathal O’Connell, Chief Executive Officer, bmi regional. “Our choice of destinations is based on customer demand and with Hamburg being a significant operational base for major employers such as Airbus and Imperial Tobacco, we are supplying services our business users have asked for.”
The former bmi British Midland International subsidiary is starting to establish itself as its own individual aviation business after gaining its independence last autumn. The carrier was sold to UK investor Sector Aviation Holdings earlier in the year by British Airways’ parent International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) as part of its own purchase of bmi but it only started operating under its own control at the start of the Northern Winter schedule in late October 2012.
Hamburg is obviously not new to the Bristol Airport route map. It was last flown by German carrier OLT between November 2005 and February 2009. According to UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data 8,781 passengers flew between Bristol and Hamburg in 2008, during the last full year of flights. Hamburg is a major tourist destination for both domestic and overseas visitors and as a major transport hub in Northern Germany is one of the most affluent cities in Europe.
“As an organisation we are committed to developing markets in areas where our customers want to travel,” said Cathal O’Connell. “The launch of this new service to Hamburg and, from next month, to Frankfurt, is a continuation of our promise to serve key economic and transport hubs to multiple destinations across Europe.”
The Bristol – Hamburg will also be underpinned by traffic supporting the activities of aircraft manufacturer Airbus which has facilities in both cities, while Imperial Tobacco, which will occupy its new head office site currently under construction in Bristol in March 2013, also has a significant employee base in Hamburg.
According to MIDT data, approximately 6,000 bi-directional O&D passengers in the past year flew between Bristol and Hamburg, each paying an average $204 per single ticket. The main traffic flows are with KLM via its Amsterdam Schiphol hub (55 per cent) and with Brussels Airlines via the Belgian capital (38 per cent), while additional travellers will be making use of ground transportation to get alternative flight itineraries and direct services.