What will the demise of bmibaby mean for its main bases?

With the news last week that bmibaby will be grounded from September we consider what the implications will be for its 3 main bases at Belfast City, Birmingham and East Midlands.  The announcement last Thursday confirmed that bmibaby’s operations will be scaled back from June, with the carrier ending all flights to Belfast, flights between East Midlands and Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Geneva, Glasgow, Newquay, Nice and Paris, and those between Birmingham and Amsterdam and Knock on 11 June.  The June cancellations represent around 45% of bmibaby’s seat capacity for Summer 2012 and their remaining services are due to end by 10th September.

From a peak of almost 4.3m passengers in 2007, bmibaby’s overall passenger traffic had fallen to 2.2m in 2011 reflecting the competitive nature of the markets they operated in.  Their Summer 2012 programme totalled just under 1m seats with services to 31 destinations mostly from Belfast City, Birmingham and East Midlands.

With just over 0.5m seats planned for Summer 2012, the East Midlands base was bmibaby’s biggest base with 56% of the carrier’s total seat capacity.  The biggest markets included the usual summer sun destinations of Alicante, Barcelona, Nice and Palma and totalled 280,000 seats.  Spain was their biggest single country market with 150,000 seats, followed by the UK with 108,000 seats to Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jersey and Newquay – all of which (except Jersey) will go in the first wave of cancellations.

For East Midlands, the loss of bmibaby is stark – around 40% of the airport’s scheduled seat capacity will go, although other carriers have been quick off the mark to cherry pick the attractive routes with Flybe announcing they will base two airport from this winter to serve Amsterdam, Paris, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Jersey; and Monarch announcing on Friday they will set up a new base at the airport from late Summer 2012 serving Malaga, Alicante, Palma and Faro. This is good news for the travelling public although whether the resulting fares are as competitive remains to be seen.

bmibaby’s other main bases will also be affected, although Birmingham less so than Belfast City as bmibaby provided only 11% of Birmingham’s summer scheduled seat capacity. Just over half of bmibaby’s Birmingham programme was to summer sun destinations, with the remainder to the European cities of Amsterdam, Lisbon, Prague and Rome, as well as two UK routes to Belfast City and Knock.  It is likely that Birmingham’s existing carriers (including Monarch, easyJet and Flybe) will simply absorb much of this traffic. 

At Belfast City bmibaby’s 133,000 seats in Summer 2012 provided nearly a quarter of the airport’s scheduled seat capacity and their departure leaves a gap for this summer that will be difficult to fill.    Just over half of bmibaby’s programme was to summer sun destinations such as Alicante, Faro, Malaga and Palma with the remainder to the regional UK airports of Birmingham, East Midlands and Stansted.  At the time of writing only easyJet have announced they will serve Belfast City from Birmingham so there remains a big gap for the airport and those passengers whose summer travel plans have been permanently delayed.

Deirdre Fulton, Associate Consultant, ASM

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