View Full Version : BA to pull out of Belfast

27th Sep 2001, 17:21
Just announced on local BBC TV news that the BFS/LHR shuttle is to be withdrawn at the end of October. 250 BA employees are said to be in line for redundancy. BA claims to have made a loss of 38 million on the route over the last 5 years.

This will leave no services to LHR from BFS as BMI will be transfering to BHD later in the year.

I always asumed BA saw the route as a valuable feeder service for onward flights out of LHR. If that was/is the case then BA can no longer be looking at the wider picture. :confused:

27th Sep 2001, 17:51
Quote from BA press release "The withdrawal of this loss-making service will result in the closure of the airline's operating base at Belfast International Airport..."

It appears that ALL flights (those are LHR, ABZ, CWL and MAN) with BA Mainline AND British Regional through BFS will be stopped, though the BRAL flights being consolidated through BHD.

[ 27 September 2001: Message edited by: dwlpl ]

27th Sep 2001, 17:52
Well, there's always Go Fly from STN to BFS.

27th Sep 2001, 18:01
Few people perhaps have any concept of the tradegy this truly is for this tiny province. There isn't a lot of decent carriers out of Aldergrove as it is - the low-cost ones are all very well and good but not suitable for many with their bases being so far outside London. Being disabled, I certainly couldn't consider those airlines as an option for heading to the big smoke. Fortunately, in some ways, Belfast City airport is my local, but one has to wonder how long it will be before something gives way there too. This is indeed a dreadful day for aviation in N. Ireland in general, and we can only hope that things don't deteriorate any further. Those unaffected by this cannot just be content that they're okay - we could never have envisaged this happening here, and thus it could snowball through other airports/airlines quite easily in my view.

I'm also wondering what impact all of this is having on the GA scene in general.

Sad day all round.

27th Sep 2001, 19:05

Yes, and easyJet to LTN. But neither of these two destinations has the onward connections available from LHR.

BMI will now have the monopoly on the LHR route which is due to shift from BFS to BHD very soon. Good news for them in these troubled times. It might even persuade TBI to make a fresh offer to BMI and persuade them to stay put at an airport which, according to many contributors to a recent post, would be far more suited to their aircraft.

Doors to Automatic
27th Sep 2001, 19:09
Aside from Easyjet and Go what is BFS left with?

dik dastardly
27th Sep 2001, 19:22
So at last BA have been given the excuse they wanted for the last 5 years. Didn't hear of any pull out on the other routes though (ABZ/MAN/BHX).
Perhaps Midland and TBI will be friends again. Would seem the sensible plan as BMI wont be able to cash in on the extra demand down at the City due to shorter opening hours and smaller a/c types. Perhaps the Govt should force BA to release the slots? Somebody would do it from BFS if they had the slots. Maybe even British European instead of BHD-LCY.
One thing is for sure - this is bad bad news for the many airline staff who commute to work at LHR.

27th Sep 2001, 19:29
dik dastardly

All the other routes are franchise. No mention has been made of these.

27th Sep 2001, 19:32
Well sad as it may be, pop down the hill to Belfast City and we at British European are waiting to wisk you to LCY and LGW plus loads of other UK airports
www.british-european.com (http://www.british-european.com)

27th Sep 2001, 19:33
Although its always sad when airlines discontinue a certain route, in the current climate it is only to be expected that airlines have to look very carefully at the routes on which they make a loss.

For many years, the transatlantic flights have subsidised these loss making routes, but due to the uncertainty surrounding the current situation with the US, BA can no longer take the risk of continuing services where there is ni revenue for them.

27th Sep 2001, 19:35
Where will BA pull out of next? GLA?

27th Sep 2001, 19:49
Well, if GLA is a loss making route that they can no longer sustain then maybe. Its up to the powers that be to make those kind of decisions.

People are not making these decisions to be awkward or make other peoples lives difficult.

Its about keeping a company going and unfortunately at the current time that means that sacrifices have to be made.

SG Walker
27th Sep 2001, 20:03
I think the pullout is very sad for NI residents: no direct connection from the largest and most central NI airport to the main airport of the capital of the UK??

The time this will cost businesses flying personnel on from Heathrow will be very great.

Why is it that BA cannot run this route profitably? I cant remember taking a BA LHR -BFS flight that wasn't full.

It will leave UK citizens of NI feeling further isolated. (I know about Luton/Stansted but Heathrow is vital for onward journeys).

[ 27 September 2001: Message edited by: Chicken_hawk ]

27th Sep 2001, 20:36
The inhabitants of Waterworld are unable to appreciate the knockout blow this will have on the people of NI. Part of its identity as a province of the United Kingdom is the full interconnectivity with the rest of the country, which was provided through Aldergrove ever since BA was an element of the apparatus of state.

I hope Aldergrove has a future, I feel very sad for the hard working BFS crews who have always been a happy and fresh faced throughout the Shuttle experience. BFS used to fill a Tristar at Christmas. The load often required a Shuttle back-up aircraft. BA’s inability to make a profit on this route has nothing to do with a lack of effort on their part. It was a pleasure to work with them and I shall miss them. Once again, the fault lies with BA’s continuing refusal to face up to its massive overheads and burgeoning administrative empire. Even now after 7000 job cuts, Waterworld remains largely untouched. I am beginning to get seriously concerned.

I am deeply saddened by this development. It is a sickening irony that for a part of the World that has suffered so dreadfully from terrorism these last 30 years, this hammer blow is the result of yet more terrorism from another World.


27th Sep 2001, 21:24
BA have been trying to get off the LHR-BFS route for years. I remember the rumour going round some 10 years ago.
What you have to remember is that yes the route may be busy, even fill a Tristar at Christmas, but what is important is the ticket yield. Flights to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are low yield and have been for years. Dublin has had Ryan Air on the route for years forcing down fares, hence when BM started LHR-DUB BA pulled off. Now the low costs have started on London-Belfast pushing down fares.
Handling fees at LHR higher than LTN and STN. Theres a point when you have to stop throwing money away.
Its sad to see the route and any staff which go. Times are changing......

27th Sep 2001, 21:34
It's an ill wind...... But I can't help but think that BA are cancelling routes that run head-long into low cost territory where thay have very little chance of competing. BFS load factors are not being affected by the terrible events of the last few weeks, if anything they are up slightly! BA are running scared of low cost operaters in Euroupe and have had long-haul pax loads severely curtailed - an almost impossible environment to operate profitably within. I wish them and their staff all the best for what could prove to be very difficult times.

[ 27 September 2001: Message edited by: Fly-by-night ]

27th Sep 2001, 22:06

BA are unlikely to pull out of GLA as they have just moved all their MAN maintenace up there.
I would be more concerned about the MAN shuttles though, BACE are looking increasingly likely to take over all the remaining routes out of MAN (JFK excepted).

Announcement tommorrow morning!!

27th Sep 2001, 22:08
BFS still has Mearsk with multiple daily rotations to the Second City! Dont know for how long though, who will handle us?
A sad sad loss, a great bunch of people, The Arch-B##stard of BFS (he knows who he is) and the crew deserve better than this. Good luck to all of you, may it lead to greener grass on the other side.

Me, I feel ashamed at the moment to be associated with BA.

27th Sep 2001, 22:16
Six landing and take off slots were gained by BA today at LHR. Long haul services were also switched to LHR from LGW. Frequency of some affected services have been reduced, so more free slots.

Are Big Airlines starting to consolidate on LHR? If so, watch the other domestic routes such as GLA & MAN, they could provide more free slots for long haul. Heathrow's favourite airline then concentrates on making profit away from the low cost domestic market. Cost savings first at Belfast, then Manchester, then Glasgow, then..... Gatwick????? ;) :confused:

Then sit back and watch the low cost boys get even bigger. Both sectors do well. Time to buy shares in BA, easy, Go & Ryan :D :D

But perhaps not BA, something tells me that a certain Greek person might just purchase a dozen or so brand new 767s :D ;) The "webs favourite ailine", might become the world wide webs favourite :D

In trim
27th Sep 2001, 22:24
BA were talking to CityFlyer about taking this route over (but out of LGW) a couple of years ago, but it never came to anything. Too politically sensitive? But they've been making a huge loss for years, and now there's really no option.

BFS really is going to struggle with such a huge loss of throughput (BA and BMi) overnight. Be interesting to see what they do to try and recoup the loss.

Luke Mc
27th Sep 2001, 23:18
I believe the low cost airlines such as EZY may take andvantage by either increasing frequencies to BFS or starting a new base there. Additionally, we may get RYR opearing a BFS-STN route etc.

682ft AMSL
28th Sep 2001, 02:09
There are 4 domestic routes into LHR on which BA and BMI compete. The CAA reported that passenger numbers in 2000 were as follows:

EDI 1.6m
GLA 1.4m
MAN 1.2m
BFS 1.1m

Arguebly the mainland routes were boosted in Q4 2000 by the debacle with the railways post-Hatfield.

Without information on capacity and yields it is diffilcult to draw too many conclusions. However at face value there appears to be a tremendous difference between the yields at MAN and BFS if MAN is profitable and BFS has lost 38m over the last few years??

28th Sep 2001, 03:00
I wonder how long it will take before TBI puts up its fees to Easy and Go, in order to make up the loss in revenue from BA and BMI, or reduces the facilities at BFS. Thats if there is a TBI around much longer, hostile takeover is looming.....

28th Sep 2001, 03:02
Out of interest, BA pulled out of MAN-LAX a couple of years ago, 'cos 87% load factors didn't make money :eek:
That they had just started a second LHR-LAX daily service didn't have anything to do with that decision :p
Sympathies to all in NI
we aim to please, it keeps the cleaners happy

28th Sep 2001, 13:33
"I wonder how long it will take before TBI puts up its fees to Easy and Go...."

I cannot see TBI leaving itself open to lose the airlines that will be left after the departuress of BA/BM by increasing fees. It may even lead to a reduction in fees in return for a long term contract between TBI and easyJet/Go.

Will the departures of BA/BM leave easyJet as BFS biggest user?

28th Sep 2001, 14:05
If BA reduce the domestic capacity much more, then people from the regions will use alternative scheduled carriers on transatlantic routes. BAs strategy doen't make sense. Its difficult to understand how they lose so much on high capcity domestic routes, it must be due to unreasonable central admin overheads.

Could the competition have hacked into their business planning computer?

28th Sep 2001, 14:20
Its difficult to understand how they lose so much on high capcity domestic routes, it must be due to unreasonable central admin overheads.

Well, considering how BIG the BA bosses have been to take a 15% pay cut - makes you wonder why the heck their salaries have been so ridiculous in the first place. I'm all for people getting paid what they're worth, but many pilots don't and I'm sorry - but to me, having played both the academic/managerial and piloting sides (albeit only PPL) of the game, I have to say that I consider the skills involved in keeping planes in the air to be MILES ahead of keeping the airline going in a sense - obviously the two are intimately linked - BUT regardless, if companies got their priorities right instead of lining the back pockets of those at the top, we wouldn't have half of this crisis in my opinion. But no doubt the big bosses would rather risk losing all than losing more of their pay, which at the end of the day if it was even halved in some cases would only bring it in line with us lower echelon workers - and we survive.

STart thinking about others BA or others will stop supporting you and then you really will have problems :mad:

28th Sep 2001, 16:12
You've got to seriously question the beancounters' methods and madness sometimes.
Say if just 25% of the pax on these flights were shuttling it to stage for long haul connections, then that's presumably 25% of the flight's revenue written into the long haul coffers as a long haul ticket.
Not to mention the loss of goodwill that can't be measured in dollars and sense.......

28th Sep 2001, 16:18
As someone who lived in NI for 32 years and who was a regular business traveller on the BFS-LHR route I am amazed at the attitude of BA in dumping this route and using the American bombings and downturn as a convenient excuse.

Perhaps it is time again that the BA "global" empire should be broken up again so that the "regional" operations come more to the fore.

It is alright claiming to be "The World's Favourite Airline" but what if half the world don't have access to your routes.

Perhaps British Airways should remember their core business and forget "One World" Alliance ?

682ft AMSL
28th Sep 2001, 19:15
This is the official announcemenmt from the BA press office. Note: this suggests that all BRAL routes will be consolidated at BHD. Where BRAL operate from the UK to both BHD and BFS, this presumably means that a route is effectively being axed e.g. MAN-BFS.

British Airways today announced detailed changes to its route network following last week's decision to operate a reduced flying programme.

Following the impact on demand of the tragic events in the USA, British Airways is to operate a reduced schedule and rationalised services to America, the Middle East and Europe.

As part of its route network changes, British Airways will withdraw services between Belfast and London Heathrow along with the suspension of some eight shorthaul routes at Gatwick.

The Belfast London route has a history of unprofitability and in the course of the last four years losses on the route have amounted to 38 million. The withdrawal of this loss-making service will result in the closure of the airline's operating base at Belfast International Airport, with the exception of cargo at Belfast International Airport.

British Airways' subsidiary and franchise operations to and from other Northern Ireland airports are unaffected by today's announcement.

Almost 500 weekly flights, to eight UK destinations will continue as normal with its subsidiary, British Regional Airlines, consolidating its Aberdeen, Cardiff and Manchester services at Belfast City Airport.

Ian Reid, British Airways' General Manager UK and Ireland said: "The decision to cease flying the Belfast to London Heathrow service has not been an easy one. Over the years we have tried hard to maintain this service. However, despite the best efforts of all our staff and support from the local community huge losses have continued.

"We now face exceptional conditions in a very difficult operating environment and therefore tough decisions must be taken to protect the commercial interests of the airline. Regrettably we cannot continue to bear losses of this magnitude without taking immediate action."

The airline's withdrawal from its London Heathrow route will be effective from October 27 and it is hoped that any job losses can be achieved on a voluntary basis.

The changes today are the first phase of measures to address the changing environment. British Airways will be reviewing its network on a week-to-week basis and consequently will quickly address further issues as and when they arise to protect the business.

28th Sep 2001, 22:53
It's absolute bollocks and no wonder BA are sinking fast. Unless they are a registered charity, what company continues running anything at a loss and for 4 years!

It's an excuse to pull off the route; accounts can be made to show anything.

And if BA conitinue to cut capacity, they will be very poorly placed to regain any share of the market, especially over the pond, when the upturn comes as surely it will.

29th Sep 2001, 00:25
Sir Richard must be laughing his ass off at David Burnside being deserted by his former employer - never mind, next time DB MP wants to visit the US, he can still travel OneWorld - EI BHD-SNN-JFK :D

Somehow I doubt he'll take them up on it...

29th Sep 2001, 02:23

I think the next place BA cease operations to r from may well be LHR.

camel trader
29th Sep 2001, 05:08
Behind the times MarkD. Aer Fungus has just announced it will cease flying out of Belfast as well. And from people within the company it looks like if they don't receive a cash injection from Mary they will cease trading by Jan '02. :cool:

29th Sep 2001, 05:54
Hi All. This is my first posting as a non-lurker, so I thought I'd make a contribution which was in no way controversial :-)

BA's "termination" of the BFS-LHR route shouldn't necessarily be taken at face value; a de-constructionist analysis offers any number of alternative interpretations of this news item:-

a) Although BFS has been nixed from the schedule, there has been nothing from BA to suggest that they are pulling out of N.Ireland completely. So, for example, they could fly BHD-LHR (like BMI), and leave Aldergrove to the low-grade (sorry, low-cost) carriers like Go-F***, SleazyBob and (if PPRuNe rumours are to be believed) RyanBore!

b) Being (ostensibly) part of UK, N.Ireland needs an (ostensible) "flag carrier" airline to service it, so BA's withdrawal - on the grounds that it is (ostensibly)losing money on the route - is part of a longer game to get HMG to pony up megawads of dosh to "preserve this vital strategic link" and, purely co-incidentally of course(!), cross-fund BA's "real" loss-making routes.

c) (And this is mighty devious!!!) The loss of the "flag carrier" link to N.Ireland, although justified on a seemingly clear commercial basis (- could someone explain to me how BA could lose so much on a route with such high load factors? -), has actually occurred at the behest of HMG in order to soften up the populace for an early transition to a unified Ireland. This would certainly be consistent with the attempt today by Dr Reid - Secretary of State for N.Ireland - to get the people of mainland UK to "strain at the gnat" of "loyalist" misdeeds, while "swallowing the camel" of "nationalist" terrorism!

d) ....fill in your own scenario.....

In short, nothing is what it seems; one has to read very closely between the lines to find the truth.

Quaerere Verum.

Minhaj Atwah
29th Sep 2001, 15:16
Whilst the accountants at BA continue with such practices as allocating 1 to the BFS portion of a BFS-JFK thro-booking then it’s no surprise that the route ‘loses’ money. Where other companies use accountants to analyse costs, BA use them to spin and obfuscate the truth to address it’s own corporate agenda.

1st Oct 2001, 02:36
camel trader

Bloody hell.

The EI medicine is gonna kill the patient in short order...

1st Oct 2001, 02:58
Typical of BA.Now they have ****** the fair competition from good guys like Gill they
desert another regional airport.
Rumour in Cranebank Friday 28th was that they are getting rid of 3000 pilots.EOG,757,767 and 747 classic fleet
to go.Watch this space and see how many companies use the tragedy of the 11th as an excuse to lay off crew then rehire on reduced salaries in 6 months time as well as
renegotiate cheaper lease prices for A/C.

1st Oct 2001, 13:26

and what is EI's axing of the only service to NI "softening the populace up" for?

It's a repercussion of the BWI cancellation but they could have used a different aircraft or contracted to RE.

The only way SNN stopover should work is as a transatlantic hub within Ireland and some UK but they refuse to put on the services to make it work [better - stopover is gash anyway but if you have to...]

1st Oct 2001, 17:18
BA initiated the Shuttle concept between BFS and LHR, it was their idea. I think I'm right in saying that they even introduced the 757 into BA on that route. Then along came BMI and gradually won over the customers. Now, with BMI deserting BFS, it was the opportune time for BA to come out fighting. Instead they have rolled over, and allowed one part of the country to be left as second class citizens. It is a sad situation for Northern Ireland, but in the longer term it may prove to be a mistake that BA will regret. Are they going to continue to treat ordinary customers as worthless (after all, they had no qualms about telling us all they were going to chase only the business customer).

3rd Oct 2001, 22:45

I think this talk of BFS being NI's main airport is a bit misleading. As the BE ads at LHR say: it's 14 miles from the city centre and the connections to/from it are atrocious. I think BMI will win big style from BHD when people realise how much more convenient BHD-LHR is.

BFS still thinks it runs a monopoly and I'm glad it's had the kick in the teeth from BMI.

I think BA's withdrawl is invidious in the least - all the BA staff are being offered redundancy payments BELOW statutory minima.

Truthsayer. Sorry to jump down your first post-lurk but...BA is NOT 'the flag carrier' (Virgin took that honour 3 years ago). It is just another airline that's all. You comment about NI being part of the UK and havina a need for the flag carrier etc etc is not relevant. To paraphrase Don Corleone (??)"It's not political - it's business".

Finally, regarding landing fees: TBI will just up the landing fees to the boys on the south side of the runway and everyone will be happy (aprt from the taxpayer)...

And just to finish - good luck to all the BA check-in staff and thanx for all the jump seats...

[ 05 October 2001: Message edited by: Dunhovrin ]

Carnage Matey!
4th Oct 2001, 01:55
Takes more than painting the union flag on your winglets to be called the flag carrier! When Virgin start serving the nasty destinations as well as the nice ones they might have a shot at it. Haven't seen the Queen or Tony charetering a Virgin aircraft lately!

4th Oct 2001, 04:28

Your rumour regarding getting rid of 3000 pilots.EOG,757,767 and 747 classic fleet.

Well that would leave just 500 of us (or 1/7 of the pilots.) So are they also going to remove 6/7 of the rest of the workforce? (49000 of them).

Not likely in the short term I believe. However anything is possible in the long term given the fallout from Sep 11th.


Doors to Automatic
4th Oct 2001, 14:47
I find the fact that BA have reportedly lost 38m on the LHR-BFS route over the last 4 years very difficult to believe.

That said it is the BA's perogative whether or not they operate the route. Their decision to discontinue must have been influenced by TBI's attitude towards their long-established customers. In my experience short-term greed seldom works.

BFS has gone from a thriving regional airport with a strong and growing network to a low-cost back-water and they only have themselves to blame.