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Knock airport loses BMI Baby, gains Lufthansa

Knock confident of replacing BMI Baby as German route commences

Anton McNulty

MANAGEMENT at Ireland West Airport Knock say they are confident of announcing a replacement airline to service their Birmingham route before BMI Baby pull out of the airport on June 10.
The announcement by the budget airline BMI Baby to terminate their Birmingham to Knock service came in the week the airport commenced its newest route to Germany with airline giant, Lufthansa.
The Birmingham route is one of the busiest at Knock airport carrying up to 50,000 passengers per year. The airline will operate as normal until June 10, 2012 and Donal Healy, a spokesperson for IWAK told The Mayo News that they are confident that they will find a replacement to take over before that date.
“We are in advanced talks with a number of airlines and we are confident a positive announcement will be made in the next couple of weeks. It is one of our busiest routes and there is always interest in it … we would be extremely confident of having a replacement in place before June 11 when the route finishes,” he said.
The termination of the Birmingham flights following the decision by BMI Baby’s owners IAG to ground the airline in September. The airline is a subsidiary of BMI which was purchased by IAG - the owners of British Airways - in December from Lufthansa and BMI is expected to be fully merged into British Airways.
BMI Baby’s demise was well flagged as the company struggled to stem losses of up to €25 million and IAG sought to sell it following the purchase of BMI.
Mr Healy said the airport were aware of the airline’s difficulties but had hoped a buyer would be found and added that they only began talks with other airlines after BMI Baby’s announcement to pull out of Knock. He also confirmed that customers affected by these cancellations after June 10 will be offered a full refund.
The disappointment of BMI Baby’s decision to terminate the Birmingham route was superseded by the commencement of flights by Lufthansa to Dusseldorf in Germany. The arrival of the first flight on Saturday coincides with the launch of a new €1 million plus overseas joint tourism marketing campaign from the regions to encourage overseas holidaymakers to visit the West and North West of Ireland.
Accompanying passengers on the first flight from Dusseldorf were six journalists from some of Germany’s biggest media organisations, who will be taking part in a three day familiarisation trip around the West of Ireland to sample all the wonders and attractions the region has to offer.
Joe Gilmore, Managing Director of IWAK welcomed the new passengers and said the arrival of Lufthansa was a vote of confidence in the airport.
“This new service is a major vote of confidence for this airport and indeed the wider region and we look forward to welcoming German tourists to this beautiful part of Ireland. and we hope this will be the start of significant expansion by Lufthansa at this airport in the coming years.” he said.

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