Flybe Strengthens Birmingham Network with new Irish Link

UK regional carrier Flybe is to expand its international offering from Birmingham Airport next month with the launch of a new four times weekly link to Ireland West Airport Knock, its third scheduled flight to the destination in the west of the Republic of Ireland.  The new route will commence at the start of the northern hemisphere winter schedule on October 27, 2013.

Flybe is already the largest carrier at Birmingham Airport by aircraft movements and this route will increase the airline’s network from the facility to 23 destinations and 636 flights a week, including services to Belfast City, Dusseldorf, the Channel Islands, Paris Charles de Gaulle, regional France, Scotland and popular ski destinations during the winter months. 

“Given that we are already the biggest airline at Birmingham Airport, when we learnt of the opportunity to offer the route it was an obvious and natural extension to our network. We look forward to welcoming thousands of new passengers onto the service,” said a Flybe spokesman.

The Midlands is home to many thousands of Irish descendants so the route will be welcomed by many wanting to visit friends and relatives and do business both in the Midlands and West and North West of Ireland.  “The service will also help promote tourism and business in both regions and encourage further connections via Birmingham Airport to many other destinations,” added William Pearson, aviation development director for Birmingham Airport.

Flybe already offers direct flights to Knock from Edinburgh and Manchester and had previously also provided flights to Leeds Bradford.  The carrier first launched services to Knock in April 2011 when it inaugurated flights from Edinburgh, adding its link from Manchester in October 2011.  The flights to Leeds Bradford followed in March 2012 but were suspended from September the same year. 

The new Birmingham service will mark the continuation of direct air services to the UK’s second largest city.  The route is currently served under the Aer Lingus Regional brand by Aer Arann but it will close the route from October this year.  Aer Arann had entered the market in June 2012 after bmibaby shutdown its operations after seven years of services. 

“Our Birmingham service has long been one of our most established routes from the airport with over 50,000 passengers using the services each year. Today’s announcement highlights Flybe’s commitment to serving the people of the West & North West of Ireland, providing vital connectivity to key markets in the UK and Scotland,” said Joe Gilmore, managing director, Ireland West Airport Knock

In the table below we highlight passenger demand between Birmingham and Knock over the past ten years, according to official statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).  The data shows that passenger numbers have fallen significantly from a high of 90,000 plus in 2005 and 2006 to just 39,000 last year, but that is mainly due to a reduction in capacity as available seats have declined 53.8 per cent during the period as the Boeing 737s of bmibaby were replaced by the smaller ATR 72s of Aer Arann.

SCHEDULED AIR DEMAND BETWEEN BIRMINGHAM AND IRELAND WEST KNOCK (terminal and transit passengers; UK CAA)

Year

Passengers

% Change

2012

39,234

(-12.3) %

2011

44,723

6.0 %

2010

42,188

(-16.6) %

2009

50,587

(-21.1) %

2008

64,114

(-17.4) %

2007

77,597

(-16.0) %

2006

92,422

(-2.0) %

2005

94,302

8.4 %

2004

86,967

34.3 %

2003

64,735

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