bmi regional Returns to Newcastle – Brussels Market

UK regional carrier, bmi regional, has confirmed it will introduce a new link between Newcastle International Airport in north east England and the Belgian capital, Brussels, a route it once previously operated for European flag carrier Brussels Airlines.   The carrier will offer up to two flights per day from March 3, 2014 and will mark the return of an important air link for local businesses and political leaders that was dropped by the Belgian carrier earlier this year.

“This is our first route from Newcastle International and we’re delighted to provide the only direct flight for travellers from the north east of England to the Belgian capital,” said Cathal O’Connell, chief executive officer, bmi regional. “This year we’ve launched over a dozen new routes from British airports and our new Newcastle to Brussels service opens up opportunities for those travelling for business and for pleasure.”

The return of the route after a one year hiatus is important for the regional economy.  Connectivity is vital to enable businesses to grow and prosper but more so, many business links have been established based on the previous operation of the route.”P&G considers flights from Newcastle to Brussels as a vital transport link between our European Innovation centres in these cities and to enable engagement with the EU,” said Charles Bragg, research and development director, P&G UK & Ireland.  “Good transport links are an important consideration for P&G's investment in the North East of England.”

The Newcastle – Brussels route had been a regular part of the Brussels Airlines network but as it expanded in other markets across the UK, most notably Edinburgh, it took a very late decision in the first quarter of this year to close the route at the end of the winter 2012/2013 schedule.  It had been operated for a long time using British Aerospace BAe 146 and Avro RJ jets but from January 2010 was flown by bmi regional on Brussels Airlines’ behalf using an ERJ 145, an aircraft many observers believed was the right size for the route.  This agreement continued until October 2012 when a larger Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 of Flybe was introduced for a single season ahead of the route’s closure.

"We are delighted that bmi regional have announced they will commence flying Newcastle - Brussels next March, Chris Sanders, aviation development director, Newcastle International Airport, told The HUB this week.  “There are a significant number of businesses and other organisations that rely upon easy access to Brussels, which this link will restore, and it helps us in our quest to improve connectivity for the whole of the North East England region. 

“We can certainly do with more hub capacity as, when carriers do increase capacity, demand very quickly fills the capacity.  Emirates recent introduction of the 777 on their Dubai service has recently led to year-on-year growth of around 30 per cent,” he added.

It is understood that the flight will initially operate with an interline partnership with Brussels Airlines that will allow through ticketing but bmi regional is believed to be open to the introduction of a full codeshare arrangement with the Belgian carrier that could see its ‘SN’ code return to the Newcastle departure board in the future.

In the table below we look at the available capacity and passenger demand on the route over the past ten years.  A switch from using a larger capacity aircraft to more frequencies with a smaller aircraft from 2010 shows clear benefits in the statistics and why Newcastle International Airport executives are confident this new agreement with bmi regional will offer a sustainable future for the route.  “With Brussels Airlines, the route was carrying circa 50,000 passengers a year so the potential is considerable and the Embraer-145 is the ideal sized aircraft to resume service with,” explained Sanders.

SCHEDULED ANNUAL DEMAND AND CAPACITY BETWEEN BRUSSELS AND NEWCASTLE (terminal and transit passengers; UK CAA and non-stop departures; OAG Analyser)

Year

Total Passengers

% Change

Available Seats (each direction)

% Change

2012

47,301

(-1.8) %

41,488

4.3

2011

48,179

31.0 %

39,773

(-1.9) %

2010

36,787

95.4 %

40,524

55.0 %

2009

18,828

(-25.2) %

26,139

(-4.3) %

2008

25,177

(-35.4) %

27,307

(-39.2) %

2007

38,958

(-18.2) %

44,913

(-14.7) %

2006

47,654

(-17.4) %

52,661

(-21.4) %

2005

57,680

(-10.6) %

67,015

(-7.3) %

2004

64,512

(-12.2) %

72,306

(-6.3) %

2003

73,495

-

77,168

-


Brussels is renowned for its Grand Place - an UNESCO World Heritage Site - and other architectural sights including the futuristic Atomium and traditional Flemish houses in addition to its vibrant arts and food districts.  Home to the Brussels Stock Exchange, the city serves as a centre of administration for the European Union and a gateway to other cities including Antwerp, Ghent and Maastricht.

Newcastle will be the third British airport to be linked to Brussels by bmi regional, which currently operates services from East Midlands and Edinburgh.  The route will be flown using a 49-seat Embraer ERJ 145.  bmi regional became independent from its parent BMI in June 2012 and has pursued a sustainable expansion strategy whilst retaining full in-flight service and the highest customer service standards.